If you thought the 2008 presidential cycle was predicated on celebrity, well, how about a candidate who had a ratings hit by making people unemployed?

Rumored presidential candidate Donald Trump will make a surprise visit to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington today.  He plans to address the convention in the afternoon. The decision to attend CPAC was pushed by Trump’s longtime political advisor Roger Stone, and indicates the billionaire real estate mogul is becoming serious about seeking the Republican nomination for president next year.

Trump has been hinting at his desire to run for months.  “For the first time in my life, I am absolutely thinking about it,” he told MSNBC in October.  According to Newsmax, Trump is “telling friends he has decided he will definitely run.”  And although he denied any involvement when someone began mysteriously polling New Hampshire residents about their thoughts on a Trump campaign, he still made sure to tell Fox News that he heard the results were “amazing.”

Somehow, I don’t see The Donald as the man to unite the clans:

Although he accepted GOProud’s invitation, the twice-divorced Trump also appears to be trying to improve his image among social conservatives. Trump, who stated that he was pro-choice when he mulled a run for president in 2000, told popular conservative radio host Laura Ingraham on Wednesday that he is, in fact, pro-life. “Oh, you didn’t know that?” Trump asked a surprised Ingraham, despite an abundance of news stories that refer to his pro-choice views.

There has also been talk of a grassroots effort to Draft Trump, although so far the loudest voice calling for The Donald to run seems to be on his payroll. Michael Cohen, an executive vice resident at the Trump Organization, is also the proprietor of a website which encourages his boss to run for the presidency.  “I am, like so many people, truly hoping Mr. Trump elects to run for president,” Cohen told Politico earlier this month.  “I have the honor of working for the Trump Organization and knowing Mr. Trump as an individual. He would make a first-rate president. He would change the playing field as far as where America stands in this global economy.”

Trump will speak today at 3 pm ET, assuming that the schedule doesn’t get too far off track.  From the limited reaction I’ve seen around CPAC, he will have to overcome considerable skepticism to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate.  He has a long track record of success in the business world, but his political and personal track record doesn’t exactly promise a smooth ride.  Doing oppo research on a real-estate tycoon shouldn’t be that hard, right?  How many toes has Trump stomped to become a multi-billionaire?

His economic prowess will, however, give Republicans a solid voice in demolishing the pretenses of Obamanomics over the next year — and let’s face it, a Trump candidacy won’t cost other candidates any donations, since he’s likely to use his own money in the short term.  It also promises to make 2011 somewhat more entertaining than it might otherwise be.  But how long before the GOP tells Trump, “You’re fired”?