The two potential 2012 Republican candidates the press has decided they enjoy writing about the most are two gregarious clowns who will not run for president in 2012: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and television personality Donald Trump.
Trump spoke at CPAC -- he was invited, and heavily promoted, by gay conservative group GOProud -- and his speech got a lot of attention, because he is a professional television personality. And then he received 1% of the vote in the straw poll. The GOProud volunteers who were pressed into service promoting the Trump brand were not even particularly enthusiastic about it.
Trump's false candidacy is the product of Roger Stone, the notorious and notoriously weird (but always well-dressed) political consultant/dirty trickster who, last year, attempted to run "Manhattan Madam" Kristin Davis for governor of New York on a platform of the legalization of basically everything. Trump, I'd argue, is slightly less serious than Madam Davis, as a candidate.
Trump says he'll decide about running in June -- "right before sweeps," as Josh Green points out. In the meantime, he will be happy to talk to television cameras about his various shifting political positions. (He hates China, and loves babies.)
Christie is, admittedly, a more serious person. But despite the fact that he is already in politics, and is fairly decent at it, he is just as much of a gag candidate as Trump. The media obsession with his imaginary candidacy is, at least, an organic expression of the press's desperation for interesting 2012 stories, and not the product of a marketing campaign for Brand Trump.
But Christie has repeatedly promised not to run in 2012. Which is not to say that he's not encouraging the attention: Why else go to DC to deliver an address to the American Enterprise Institute?
I'm not sure if there is an actual groundswell of support for a moderate northeastern Republican whose sole appeal to true conservatives is that he constantly bullies people. His patented, staged YouTube moments play great on Fox, but in a South Carolina primary debate, genteel Mike Huckabee would destroy him.
Ann Coulter has endorsed him, because he yells at people, and that endorsement already upset conservative talker Mark Levin, who points out that Christie is basically a bigger, louder Michael Bloomberg, on issues as important as gun control and immigration.
Of course, if the press and various professional Republicans couldn't focus their attention on the electric personalities of Trump and Christie, they'd have to pay attention to John Thune and Mitch Daniels. So you can understand the hype.