Billionaire real estate titan Donald Trump's rise to the pinnacle of U.S. Republican politics — the party's 2016 presidential nomination — marks one of the most unusual paths to political prominence in American history.
Just 13 months ago, Trump descended from an escalator at Trump Tower in New York City, the luxury skyscraper he built and where he lives, to make the improbable declaration that he was running for president. U.S. political figures and media pundits greeted the announcement as something of a joke; analysts said there was only a minuscule chance that Trump would wind up as the Republicans' choice to succeed President Barack Obama.
But over the course of a contentious and often bitter year of campaigning, Trump triumphed over 16 other Republican candidates, almost all of them "professional" politicians — current or former senators or governors. Trump disparaged his opponents with belittling, schoolyard taunts and then handily beat them at the ballot box in state primaries and caucuses.
Millions of American Republicans were drawn to Trump's attention-getting and unconventional proposals — to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S., at least temporarily, to thwart terrorist attackers; to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants already living in the U.S.; and to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to halt the stream of migrants.
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