NEW YORK — A visit with Donald Trump has become an important campaign stop for Republican presidential candidates.

The celebrity real estate mogul opted out of his own bid for the GOP nomination. Now, the major candidates are seeking an audience with him.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is the latest to pay a visit. Trump will host Romney Monday afternoon at Manhattan's Trump Tower.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann have both met with Trump. He shared a pizza in Times Square last spring with Sarah Palin, who is still considering a presidential bid.

Strategists say Trump's tough, in-your-face warning of a declining nation resonated with voters as he considered entering the race.

But he also damaged his reputation by reviving debunked questions about President Barack Obama's citizenship.