Donald Trump Breaks With Republican Party; Switches Voter Registration to Independent

3:53 PM PST 12/23/2011 by Kimberly Nordyke
Joe Corrigan/Getty Images

The "Celebrity Apprentice" star has been threatening for months to run for president as a third-party candidate if he wasn't satisfied with the GOP nominee.

Donald Trump has made good on recent threats to break away from the Republican party.

After years as a registered GOP voter, the Celebrity Apprentice star and real estate mogul filed paperwork Thursday to become an independent in his home state of New York, Politico reported.

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The move follows months of Trump suggesting that he would do so if he weren't satisfied with the Republican presidential candidate.

Michael Cohen, special counsel to Trump, told Politico that the move was indeed made "to preserve his right to run as an independent if he is (unhappy) with the GOP nominee."

It's not the first time Trump has switched his political affiliation; he was once registered as a Democrat.

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The most recent switch comes less than two weeks after Trump's decision to back out of moderating a Republican debate in Iowa on Dec. 27. When announcing his decision, he again mentioned that he still might run for the GOP nomination.

“It is very important to me that the right Republican candidate be chosen to defeat the failed and very destructive Obama Administration, but if that Republican, in my opinion, is not the right candidate, I am not willing to give up my right to run as an independent candidate,” Trump said in his statement. “Therefore, so that there is no conflict of interest within the Republican Party, I have decided not to be the moderator of the Newsmax debate.”

Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum were the only Republican candidates who had agreed to appear at the debate.

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After the announcement came that Trump would be moderating the Dec. 27, some of the candidates, including Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman, expressed their belief that the debate was just for spectacle and refused to attend.

Just ahead of Trump's announcement, The Hollywood Reporter spoke with the reality star, who admitted that he was wavering on his decision to moderate the debate.

"The problem is the Republicans are afraid that if I run as an independent candidate, they don't want to have a debate and then have me announce that I'm running as an independent candidate," Trump told THR.

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Trump also told THR then that he was still considering a run for president as an independent candidate. But he said he wouldn't make any announcements until after the finale of The Celebrity Apprentice. The new season of NBC's reality show premeires  Sunday, Feb. 12, and the finale airs May 20.

Trump made headlines earlier this year when he was hinting at a running for the GOP nomination himself. During his publicity blitz, he angered many supporters of President Obama with his suggestion that Obama is foreign-born, among other attacks on the president

 In May, he announced he would not be running, saying: "Business is my greatest passion, and I am not ready to leave the private sector."

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