Donald Lambro

Trump, more of a TV impresario and self-promoter than anything else, was not a serious contender. Making Barack Obama's birth certificate his opening issue just to seize TV attention, when voters are mostly focused on 9 to 12 percent unemployment and a weak economy, signaled he was in it solely for the media attention. When he abruptly dropped out this week, polls found that nearly two-thirds of the voters surveyed said they would never vote for him.

In the end, he chose to stay with his NBC TV show, "The Celebrity Apprentice," a title that would have defined a Trump presidency as much as it defines the one we have today.

Meantime, at least three former governors were putting together major campaign organizations and raising money for what will likely be the costliest primary campaign in American history.

Obama is planning to raise, by some estimates, $1 billion for his coming campaign, a daunting obstacle to overcome, even for the most serious of his challengers.

Romney, who has kept his head down for much of this year, has been focusing on meetings with donors and building his war chest. He collected $10.2 million Monday in a nationwide, one-day, phone-bank fundraising effort, a sign of his strength at this early stage of the 2012 election cycle.

Huntsman, the Obama administration's ambassador to China, is also expected to enter the race soon. A successful, telegenic, two-term governor, who, as a Morman, could draw votes away from Romney.

Pawlenty also is running at full throttle, with early appearances in the first caucus and primary states. Daniels, a low-key personality who is well liked by party conservatives for cutting spending and taxes, is still mulling over whether he will run, admitting that his wife is not enthused by the idea and that, in the end, she will determine his decision.

But these candidates have been getting little to no attention on the nightly news, which tends to focus on the sensational rather than the serious candidates with something to say. A headline over a story about Donald Trump's decision to drop out of the race that ran on Politico's web site Tuesday said his "exit signals end to silly season."

Nearly a dozen candidates have been or are now running for the right to take on Obama next year, but the network news shows have given overwhelming attention to candidates who are, or were, more celebrities than candidates worthy of consideration.

The focus now turns to the three or four candidates who actually have executive experience, who have run state governments and balanced budgets. And who oppose the failed policies Obama has pursued over the past two years, from Obamacare to $1 trillion-plus deficits to an economy most Americans say is still in a recession.

One of them will be the Republican party's nominee.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.