Streams

Covering Trump’s Long Flirtation with the Oval Office

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Billionaire Donald Trump laughs while speaking to a crowd at the 2011 Palm Beach County Tax Day Tea Party on April 16, 2011 at Sanborn Square in Boca Raton, Florida. (Getty)

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on the Brian Lehrer Show, Kurt Andersen, host of WNYC's Studio 360 and founder and former editor-in-chief of Spy magazine, discussed the ups and downs of Donald Trump—and of covering Donald Trump over the years.

Same old song

The first thing you should know about Donald Trump's presidential run is that it's not his first. Not by a long shot.

At least twice before, Trump has gone public with his intentions for the White House, before the 2000 and 1988 elections. Kurt Andersen said that track record of false starts should raise red flags for anyone taking The Donald seriously this time around.

Back in 1987 he was flirting with the idea of running for president and saying, 'Of course, if I ran, I'd win.' And this is in the 1988 election, almost a quarter-century ago. Just as he's been bankrupt many times, Trump has flirted with running for president many times...If he dropped out, what would his excuse be? The boy can cry wolf only so many times.

Elite populist or popular elitist?

Andersen marveled at Donald Trump's love affair with the Tea Party, considering they bill themselves as a populist uprising against political, social and economic elites. Is there anything more elite than a New York City-based real estate tycoon with a prime time television show? Hence, the confusion.

In American history there's been a kind of populism that talks about how they hate the elites, and embodies hatred of elites; and here is this guy who was born rich, went to an Ivy League university and is a billionaire, and miraculously, because this is America, he's riding that middle class, working class resentment of elites. People respond to that, and he's a guy who you might overhear angrily ranting about things in the deli in the morning. He said on ABC News last week, 'I don't like rich people, I get along better with middle class and poor people.'

Minding his business

Many callers expressed solidarity with The Donald because they trusted such an accomplished businessman to do a good job turning around the national economy. Andersen disagreed that Trump's resume made him qualified for the job, and said that a detailed look at the magnate's financial history would hobble his image as a consummate business whiz.

Once people look closely at his career and these serial bankruptcies, and creditors feeling ill-used, I think that idea of, 'Oh, he's a businessman with business experience,' well yeah, and he has a lot of money, but I don't think the ways he's managed to amass and keep his fortune will bear the scrutiny of an actual candidacy.

Guests:

Kurt Andersen

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Comments [56]

a g from n j

trump= archie bunker in armani threads.

Apr. 20 2011 10:37 PM
a g from n j

oh don't fret, there are plenty of people dumb enough in this land, to vote for this huckster from hell. maybe he can do sarah one better, and see russia, from one of his phallic steel and glass towers.

Apr. 20 2011 10:21 PM
Andrew Reiter from NYC

Talk is cheap & so is Donald Trump. He is a publicity junkie & needs to detox

Apr. 20 2011 04:24 PM
ericf

how many bankruptcies has mr trump been a party to?

Apr. 20 2011 12:58 PM
jk

The birther issue is total nonsense, but Obama deserves this scandal because he's been such a gutless milquetoast thru-out his term. Obama has trashed liberals and thrown them under the bus whenever it was convenient for him to do so. Obama is a Wall St puppet who governs with his tail between his legs.

Apr. 20 2011 12:14 PM
harvey fisher

i think trump has cheapened discourse in much the way that he has cheapened the skyline with his many eponymous buildings. imagine, in an economy littered with the unemployed he diminishes and makes popular the idea of losing one's job - "you're fired!" he and his ilk want to harden people's hearts, to counter our impulse to be empathetic. i have it, i've earned it and no govt., particularly THIS ONE, has any right to touch it - not the impulse in a caring society.

Apr. 20 2011 12:03 PM
Joseph from Manhattan

Brian - what is so "interesting" about this conversation (as you referenced on air during your segment with Barbara Martinez on Newark schools)?

It is one nasty comment after another. It is less a conversation and more an example of the incivility that plagues debate in today's society.

Apr. 20 2011 11:50 AM
Robert from NYC

This whole discussion really sucks and is a waste of time. Donald Trump is a waste of time and I think he should be ignored completely. Stop listening to him and he'll go away. Stop watching him and they'll stop reporting on him. Go do something worthwhile, like take out the garbage the make some lunch.

Apr. 20 2011 11:42 AM
andru

i think dwayne 'hulk obama' johnson should run for president in place of trump. he's more honest, more charismatic, and his business acumen in developing his career is at least as good as trump's mismanagement of an inherited wealth.

that's how i felt listening to the pro-trump calls during the show today - who could i suggest to them that would sound as ridiculous to them as trump does to me.

Apr. 20 2011 11:42 AM
Mitch from NYC

Trump has one asset: self-promotion. As a real-estate developer he's highly questionable. Pretty much the only guy to lose money on a casino during the boom years. And, take a look at Trump city on the UWS. Any questions?

Apr. 20 2011 11:41 AM
Jim

I personally find Trump to be a horrible choice for President. That aside, why does everyone dismiss the birther issue with such a laugh? Is that any different the audience laughing at Brian's question about Google regulation? Why should he not require our top executive to offer valid credentials?

Apr. 20 2011 11:40 AM
Jim from nj

i this quote from trump is instructive on how he would use the forces, both military and diplomatic, at his disposal were he the leader of the free world, to settle world crisis and disputes, regarding his fracus with rosie odonell:
“Rosie is a very unattractive person both inside and out.
Rosie is a person that’s very lucky to have her girlfriend.
And she better be careful or I’ll send over one of my friends over to pick up her girlfriend.
Why would she stay with Rosie if she had another choice?”

world peace, piece of cake. next!

Apr. 20 2011 11:35 AM

Donald Trump. Oh please, there is nothing credible about this guy. He's only interested in whatever will give him the most publicity possible--it's all about the press. I can't imagine any Republican worth their salt takes this guy seriously; the Palin's and Teabaggers may be a different story. But they're not really representative of the population now are they?

Apr. 20 2011 11:31 AM
Lonnie from Brooklyn!!!

And for all those people yearning for the Businessman taking charge and running the country like a For Profit Corporation. . .

Businessmen like Trump take over companies-- Strip them. Cut them. and then SELL THEM OFF.

When Trump is Finished with us-- the Chinese Premier Will be sitting in the White House.

Apr. 20 2011 11:30 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Greg

That's exactly how the rich get richer. They use their power to stick it to those with less power. Nothing new here.

Apr. 20 2011 11:30 AM
Tina Ball from Brooklyn

I believe that the reason Donald Trump is able to capture our imaginations with his presumed bid for the White House is that he is perceived as a man who knows how to game the system, and the system has become so complicated to all the rest of us that many desperate Americans are attracted to that single quality.

Apr. 20 2011 11:29 AM
Juli from Skillman, NJ

Meg Whitman has successful business experience. She did not make it to governor. So, I don't know what people want.

Apr. 20 2011 11:28 AM
Greg from South Orange, NJ

I think it would be an interesting and quite revealing inquiry to look at home many companies, small and large have been destabilized, ruined or forced into bankruptcy because they became involved with subcontracting or contracting on a Donald Trump companies venture. I once worked for a restoration and sculpture services company in the 1980s. I only worked there for one year but I remember that the sculpture department created many of the sculptures and ornaments for Trump's Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City. At the end of the project Trump paid the company much less than originally negotiated and basically stuck our company with a take it or leave it deal for final payment. I have head this scenario played out again and again with companies that have worked with Trump's affiliate companies. That is just part of his business model and normal course of doing business. He is a bully and unethical business person. If this country elects him President I am moving to Australia!

Apr. 20 2011 11:27 AM
Greg from South Orange, NJ

I think it would be an interesting and quite revealing inquiry to look at home many companies, small and large have been destabilized, ruined or forced into bankruptcy because they became involved with subcontracting or contracting on a Donald Trump companies venture. I once worked for a restoration and sculpture services company in the 1980s. I only worked there for one year but I remember that the sculpture department created many of the sculptures and ornaments for Trump's Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City. At the end of the project Trump paid the company much less than originally negotiated and basically stuck our company with a take it or leave it deal for final payment. I have head this scenario played out again and again with companies that have worked with Trump's affiliate companies. That is just part of his business model and normal course of doing business. He is a bully and unethical business person. If this country elects him President I am moving to Australia!

Apr. 20 2011 11:26 AM
Leo from queens

Kurt: He is NOT the reason we like NY

Apr. 20 2011 11:26 AM

The reason Donald Trump won't run for president is that he knows he can't change the name of the White House to Trump House, repaint it gold and replace the current facade with huge glass windows.

Apr. 20 2011 11:25 AM
Greg from South Orange, NJ

I think it would be an interesting and quite revealing inquiry to look at home many companies, small and large have been destabilized, ruined or forced into bankruptcy because they became involved with subcontracting or contracting on a Donald Trump companies venture. I once worked for a restoration and sculpture services company in the 1980s. I only worked there for one year but I remember that the sculpture department created many of the sculptures and ornaments for Trump's Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City. At the end of the project Trump paid the company much less than originally negotiated and basically stuck our company with a take it or leave it deal for final payment. I have head this scenario played out again and again with companies that have worked with Trump's affiliate companies. That is just part of his business model and normal course of doing business. He is a bully and unethical business person. If this country elects him President I am moving to Australia!

Apr. 20 2011 11:24 AM
ml from manhattan

But he wasn't born here, was he? See http://trumpbirthers.blogspot.com/2011/04/trumps-ties-to-his-birth-land-revealed.html

Apr. 20 2011 11:24 AM

I can confirm John Hutton's comment that Trump would always try to beat his contractors. My dad represented a contractor who had to sue Trump for his fee. He sued both Donald and Ivana personally. They were taking an EBT in the basement of NY Supreme Court, in Manhattan, when, during a break, my dad's associate asked the court reporter if they still had a vermin problem in the EBT rooms.
After hearing this, Ivana grabbed Donald and made him settle, immediately.

Apr. 20 2011 11:24 AM
Amy from Manhattan

"Running the country like a business" has always turned out to mean running the company to benefit big business. Hasn't worked out very well for people who don't have one.

Apr. 20 2011 11:24 AM

I can confirm John Hutton's comment that Trump would always try to beat his contractors. My dad represented a contractor who had to sue Trump for his fee. He sued both Donald and Ivana personally. They were taking an EBT in the basement of NY Supreme Court, in Manhattan, when, during a break, my dad's associate asked the court reporter if they still had a vermin problem in the EBT rooms.
After hearing this, Ivana grabbed Donald and made him settle, immediately.

Apr. 20 2011 11:22 AM
re from bklyn

My impression is that Trump is not as great a businessman as he projects. Please ask Kurt what is Trumps actual success as a buisnessman on the scale of things?

Apr. 20 2011 11:22 AM
eringobiteme

Oh dear lord, is our self esteem as a country so low, that we cozy up to the first blowhard who tells us we're pretty? Please America, read up on our issues and problems, then make a decision based on more than facile flattery.

Apr. 20 2011 11:22 AM
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights

There is a `consistent ideological thing’ going on with Bloomberg? REALLY? Let’s not inaccurately report on one politically-oriented billionaire to try and negatively contrast the behavior of another.

Apr. 20 2011 11:21 AM
J.D. from west village

Trump is a showman, but what politician is not? We've had Hollywood, Harvard/CIA, and Yale/CIA expertise running the country into the ground the past 30 years. Trump actually has accomplished real things in the real dirty world. Remember Wollman Skating Rink and Columbus Circle sat seemingly unfinishable until The Donald stepped in. Having said that, I've decided never again to cast a presidential vote. Not cynical, just realistic -- Obama has continued Bush's empire policies just as he's told.

Apr. 20 2011 11:21 AM
MP from Brooklyn

Your callers are frightening me.

Apr. 20 2011 11:20 AM
Tim McCorry from The Jersey Shore

The difference between a leader and a blowhard is action. Both FDR and Trump were born rich but FDR demonstrated his concern for the "common man" by his deeds.

Apr. 20 2011 11:19 AM
Henry from Katonah

Idea for future segment - -
Vulgarians who are ok and ones that are not. Let me go first -
Elizabeth Taylor - yes
Trump - no

Apr. 20 2011 11:19 AM

We need a Trump Supporter Registry similar to the Sex Offender Registry. There is sure to be a lot of overlap.

It would be even better if we could have a registry of people who think Donald Trump is honest and sincere. I'm about to start a multi-level marketing scheme and it would be great to fill the ranks of my first level with these chumps.

Apr. 20 2011 11:19 AM
mick from brooklyn

Thanks for having Kurt on your program. I've always enjoyed his take on The Donald.

Trump is a fraud across the board. He'll never run for President because of scrutiny of his businesses. His bankruptcies caused countless pain for small businesses that he neglected to pay.

Apr. 20 2011 11:18 AM
The Truth from Becky

If you want Donald for president and you work everyday for a living you're NUTz!!

Apr. 20 2011 11:18 AM
geo from astoria

How does middle America keep getting scammed into believing people like Trump, Bush Jr. and McCain are not elitists. They were all born with silver spoons in their mouths and have nothing to do with middle class America. They even have shown to help undermine the middle class through their economic policies and practices. What the hell happened to America. Are some of us that gullible and stupid.

Apr. 20 2011 11:17 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

It is a simple historical fact, that in chronic bad times, the public seeks a "strong man" or some wacky savior. The worst example was Adolf Hitler, but there are many other examples.
The people are frustrated and times remain tough for the middle class, and so anything is possible, even a Donald.

Apr. 20 2011 11:17 AM
michael from brooklyn

Trump is horrible. I want him, his interests, his tacky towers, that terrible toupee and that bad tan to go away. Sure he's very "american" but the worst kind.

Apr. 20 2011 11:16 AM
Lonnie from Brooklyn!!!

The day we elect a Billionaire to the White House is the day we stop being a Democracy and become an out and out Plutocracy.

Trump doesn't care about 'Ordinary People', he's saying whatever he thinks the hoi polloi will lap up.

Apr. 20 2011 11:16 AM
Estela from W.P.

Brian,I can’t believe that your are wasting precious time on Radio talking about this clown (D. T.)

Did you run out of topics?

Apr. 20 2011 11:15 AM
Leo from queens

The Donald is just capitalizing and exploiting the rampant ignorance that exists in this country in order to get publicity and ratings for his show in order to get picked up by NBC for next season.
The fact that we are talking about this cheap whore is NOT what's 'good' about America.. If this is what's 'good' then we deserve to be destitute, uneducated country filled with poverty, crime and a despotic dictatorship!

Apr. 20 2011 11:15 AM
Lauren from NYC

Re Trump as blowhard savior -- like (pardon the pun on blowhard) T Boone Pickens in this way?

Apr. 20 2011 11:15 AM
Ken from Little Neck

The very fact that we're discussing this is a disgrace for our country and politics. If he weren't a celebrity, he would just be an ordinary nutjob. The fact that there are people in this country who actually believe for even a second that he has the qualifications to be president make me question the wisdom of democracy.

Apr. 20 2011 11:15 AM
Ken from Soho

I BID THREE NO TRUMP !!!!!

Apr. 20 2011 11:13 AM
Frank from UES

Greatest Spy cartoon ever: Ven diagram refresher. What's the interection of Balkan leaders and the Jackson 5? Answer: Tito.

Trump has lost his investors more $$ money than anyone else. Bankruptcy, Bankruptcy, Bankruptcy! What an empty (formal) shirt! How he can pretend to be a symbol of sound financial management is a travesty!

Apr. 20 2011 10:33 AM
John Hutton from Brooklyn

My father, when he was alive, was a furniture designer. The company he worked for back in the 80’s had a contract to do the interior design for a trump building. Whenever I see Donald Trump, I remember my father telling me about how he could never work for Trump again; because he screwed everyone that that couldn’t sue him. My father’s company brought in a lot of suppliers and subcontractors that they had a past relationship. None of those businesses were paid unless their pockets were deep enough present a credible legal threat.

Apr. 20 2011 10:25 AM

Dear Maninagorillasuit,
Oh, how my family and I would wait for the latest issue of "Spy!" As Queens-born, but not casino operators, we recognized the importance of satire of the powerful and "ulta-oily" while cheering for the "ironmen."
The fact that Donald Trump's name is not ironically mentioned as a presidential candidate means the world needs "Spy."
Sincerely,
Not Ivanka

Apr. 20 2011 10:20 AM

It’s said he’s a good businessman but isn’t part of his business plan to declare bankruptcy every few years?
Is that his plan for the USA?

Apr. 20 2011 10:19 AM
Coach Rich from Murray Hill

... here's hoping David Brooks is wrong once again and that this non-reality based unmanaged ego is not a viable candidate dumbing-down the necessary thoughtful consideration of issues...although distracting him from further cheapening the NYC skyline is not a bad outcome...he does have one expertise needed to run for office: spending and risking other people's money, he is a master at that, although it has not always been American money...

Apr. 20 2011 07:48 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Only the LEFT.......exemplified by this segment and the comments here........is obsessed with Donald Trump as a potential (they hope) opponent of Obama.

He is actually one of you. Let's not forget that a mere 3 months ago he gave Rahm Emanuel's Chicago mayoral campaign $50,000 and has a long litany of proper anti-republican statements and bona fides on the record during the Bush years.

I know of no conservatives who embrace this P.T. Barnum or identify him as a standard bearer. He is only cannon fodder at MSNBC and NPR who want to aid the Obama campaign in attaching him to the Republicans in another attempt to slime them as extremist nuts.

Apr. 20 2011 04:57 AM
Lee from Cordova, TN

I LOVED Spy magazine, and did not know of Kurt's invlvement until now - I cannot quite say that Studio 360 is an audio equivalent, however... Kurt, what happened?!
Anyway, I will love to hear his thoughts on the "short-fingered vulgarian" and his current presidential aspirations...

Apr. 19 2011 08:59 PM
Mitch from manhattan

Donald was a draft dodger and got his start on the properties of his daddy. He went bankrupt too remember? He talks without any sense of class. His ideas are goofy. Is there any worse than someone who kids himself about who he is and his real worth, and I am not talking about money. He should stick to building things.

Apr. 19 2011 08:55 PM
Richard Higer from East Hampton, NY

Doesn't Anderson know that "The Donald" was at the barber getting his hair done during draft.
My goodness doesn't he know how difficult it is to maintain that coiffure?
Military School? The Donald must have attended the school of "Change"....and learned to change from Liberal to Republican and back again....talk about idiocy....the guy doesn't even know the legal basis for the Supreme Court's decision in " Roe vs Wade" is the constitutional right of privacy! He is too dumb and arrogant to be anything but a bankrupt phony!

Apr. 19 2011 06:34 PM
debra from www.veteranstoday.com/2011/03/31/to-chickenhawk-donald-trump

When Trump became eligible, there was no lottery for the draft, everyone went, Though Trump had attended a military academy where he had been a star athlete, when it came to facing military service, first after his academy graduation and then after college…
Where did “the Donald” go????
Inquiring minds want to know. This is a person asking for President Obama’s birth certificate. We want Donald Trumps draft card.
For someone wanting to run the “free world,” at the most critical time in his life when 2.9 million American served in Vietnam and millions more in the military, for no reason known to anyone, and in direct contradiction to the laws of man and

FUTURE "TRUMP" CONSTITUENTS?
the United States, Donald Trump managed to “slide on by.”
The generation that served, some surviving, many more not, isn’t ready to welcome “the Donald” until he explains exactly where and why. Where were you Donald? Why didn’t you serve? How did you get out of it? Where did you go? Who helped you?

Apr. 19 2011 06:25 PM
hambone from Park Slope

Does anyone know how the Donald, who went to a military school for high school, avoided Vietnam?

Apr. 19 2011 05:35 PM

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