WASHINGTON (AP) -- Out with Sarah. In with The Donald.
President Barack Obama has launched his re-election bid in a low-key manner, but the Republican Party's search for a challenger seems stranger by the day.
GOP celebrities like Sarah Palin aren't getting much buzz. Mainstream candidates like Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty aren't getting much traction. It's people once considered highly unlikely to compete seriously for the party's nomination who are creating big stirs in early voting states, a reflection of an unformed and uncertain GOP presidential field.
GOP activists in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina appear deeply intrigued by, and open to, a run by Donald Trump, the publicity-loving business tycoon and host of NBC's "The Apprentice."
Republican officials and activists stopped short of saying they see Trump as the eventual nominee. But they said their party is hungry for forceful, colorful figures to attack Obama and other Democrats on health care, spending and other issues.
In an interview by Savannah Guthrie on NBC's TODAY Show Monday Trump continued to question President Obama's citizenship and the legitimacy of his presidency even as prominent conservatives tell him to drop the issue.
"What I am saying is there is a question. There is a bigger question now than two months ago when I first started. He (Obama) doesn't have -- he might have it -- and I hope he has it (birth certificate)."
Guthrie asked Trump: How are you out on an island on this issue? Eric Cantor said I don't think he's serious when we see a campaign launch on the birther issue. Karl Rove said your full embrace of the birther issue means he's in the nutty right and is now an inconsequential candidate. Trump answered, "Oh, really? I'm leading in every poll."
TO WATCH THE FULL TODAY SHOW INTERVIEW CLICK THE VIDEO PLAYER ABOVE LEFT
In the interview Trump had new allegations against President Obama claiming he didn't actually write his first book "Dreams Of My Father."
The wptv webteam contributed to this report