From msnbc.com's Carrie Dann
OMG. They love The Donald.
The impressively coiffed business magnate and reality TV star made a previously unscheduled appearance at the annual CPAC conference of conservative activists on Wednesday, reigniting chatter that he hopes to leverage his name and fortune to become America’s, um, CEO.
Speaking –- occasionally haltingly -- to a packed Washington, D.C., ballroom, Trump declared that he’s mulling a run and that, if elected, his leadership would return “respect” to America.
“While I’m not at this time a candidate for the presidency, I will decide by June whether or not I will become one,” he told the crowd.
Trump’s promises to work to repeal the health care law, protect gun rights and advocate against abortion won jubilant applause, as did his rundown of his accomplishments as an entrepreneur.
“I’m well acquainted with winning,” he declared at one point.
But the most boisterous moment of the afternoon came when Trump mentioned former (and perhaps future) presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, the idiosyncratic Texas congressman whose intense following is on full display among the young conservatives attending the event.
“Ron Paul cannot get elected, I’m sorry,” The Donald said as a deafening mix of hearty applause and boos ensued.
"I like Ron Paul, but honestly he has just zero chance of getting elected. You have to win an election."
NBC's Lea Sutton contributed to this article.