Trump has, in the past, hinted at presidential bids, only to pull back after basking in the public interest. But in the same voraciously media-hungry spirit in which he has leveled an array of accusations – some overstated, others flatly false – at President Obama in recent weeks, Trump appears likely to launch a formal presidential campaign, hire staff, shake hands in Iowa, participate in debates – in short, run for president.

Trump is making the “types of moves that one makes if they’re actually running,” said one top Republican consultant familiar with his efforts.

The real estate mogul has spoken to pollster Tony Fabrizio as well as members of Larry Weitzner’s Jamestown Associates, sources said. Three Republicans said that Florida-based media consultant Rick Wilson had been recommended to Trump as a potential hire. (Wilson declined to comment on whether he’d been approached or spoken with Trump)…

“He gets mad that people aren’t taking him seriously,“ said a Republican who’s spoken with him.

Still, while he is “serious” from the organizational point of view and appears very likely to emerge as a formal candidate for office, he will struggle hard to be taken seriously as a potential Republican nominee. Trump may not be in on the joke — he rarely jokes about himself — but he has been a punch line as long as he’s been a public figure. He’s still more of a sideshow than anything else, most Republican insiders are convinced, and his respectable showings in largely meaningless early polls reflect little more than his widespread notoriety.