January, 2000 — The America We Deserve: Should I Run? by Donald Trump and Dave Shiflett

Last May a Washington-based Democratic pollster, Rob Schroth, conducted a nationwide survey of one thousand voters. Schroth’s thesis was that figures from disciplines outside of politics were better known and more trusted than the current crop of politicians seeking the U.S. presidency. Schroth tested athletes, businessmen, newscasters, and entertainers; he tested the popularity of public figures like Clint Eastwood, Michael Jordan, Barbra Streisand, Bill Gates, Katie Couric, Ted Turner, Robert Redford, Barbara Walters, John Elway, and Donald Trump.

It was no surprise to me that 97 percent of the American people knew who I was. I was also no surprise that I was particularly popular with some segments of the American population. Working people, African Americans, Latinos, and people making under $25,000 a year all had a favorable opinion. Rich people did not like me. Rich people who don’t know me never like me. Rich people who know me like me.

Let’s face it, if I run it will be a boon to the political cartoonists and late-night talk-show hosts. But I can take it. My experience in the New York real estate world has given me a pretty thick skin; even I laugh at the editorial cartoons that show Trump with money bulging out of his pockets.

What was astounding about the poll though was the fact that when tested in a whimsical three-way race with Texas Governor George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore, Bush led narrowly with 35 percent, Trump was second with 31 percent, and Al Gore was third with 30 percent. I was amused but thought no more about it. A few weeks later the National Enquirer published a poll of their readers that showed an identical result: Bush narrowly leading Trump with Gore bringing up the rear. I know the Washington elite will snicker about the National Enquirer, but I recall the late Republican National Chairman Lee Atwater, one of the most successful political strategists of the ’80s, once saying that he read the Enquirer regularly to keep his finger on the pulse of the average American.

Sometimes the Washington big shots forget that not everyone went to Yale or Harvard, that not everyone is making six figures a year, and that the average Americans are the people to whom the politicians in this country are accountable.

I began to consider running for president the same way I consider any major business decision: I assemble all the information, ask all the right questions, think through all the possible scenarios, and most important of all, go to the best authorities for advice. After that, I rely on my instincts.

In considering a presidential run, I turned to a friend of long standing who has represented me for eighteen years in Washington, D.C. Roger Stone is a veteran of eight national presidential campaigns and is largely creidted with the public rehabilitation of President Richard Nixon, from his resignation in 1974 until his death. I met Roger in 1979 when he was organizing the northeastern United States for Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign. We were introduced by Roy Cohn, the flamboyant attorney who sometimes represented me. Cohn told me Stone was the single toughest guy he knew. That was quite a comment coming from Roy, who was no pussycat.

I asked Stone to assess what a bid for the Reform Party presidential nomination would cost and to figure out the logistics, timing and mechanism necessary to win. I’m convinced that I can decide whether to run in early 2000 and still have time to take all comers for the Reform Party nod. The party will choose its nominee in August of 2000.

Pat Buchanan announced that he would bolt the Republican Party and seek the Reform Party nomination…

I always enjoyed watching Pat Buchanan on TV. I even appeared once on his show. I thought he was gregarious, combative, and entertaining. I knew his political position was far to the right, but until he published his public embrace of Adolf Hitler, I didn’t realize how dangerous his views are on a broad range of subjects.

In September I read a review of Buchanan’s book and couldn’t believe my eyes. He actually said the Western allies were wrong to stop Hitler. He argued that we should have let Hitler take all the territories to his east — Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and parts of the Soviet Union. What of the systematic annihilation of Jews, Catholics, and Gypsies in those countries? You don’t have to be a genius to know that we were next, and that once Hitler seized control of the countries to his east he would focus on world domination. Several historians have pointed out already that Hitler acknowledged plans to attack America as early as 1928. He also worked to acquire islands off Spain and Portugal as ports for super battleships that would attack our navy. He ordered the building of the Amerika Bomber, which could drop five-ton bombs on New York City and return to Europe without refueling. He didn’t name it that because he admired us.

On top of everything else, Hitler declared war on the United States. He didn’t want us to get the jump on him. He would have felt unmanly…

I learned that Buchanan was appearing on Face the Nation Sunday morning, September 19 [1999]. I called and dictated a statement critical of Buchanan on Hitler and had it faxed to the show…

After I contacted Face the Nation, Buchanan fired back accusing me of “ignorance.” Buchanan, who believes himself an expert, has also called Hitler “a political organizer of the first rank.” He has said, “. . . Hitler’s success was not based on his extraordinary gifts alone. His genius was an intuitive sense of the mushiness, the character flaws, the weakness masquerading as morality that was in the hearts of the statesmen who stood in his path.” Buchanan is a fan. My point of view represents what I think the whole world understands — that Hitler was a madman and a murderer of millions.

Buchanan’s views on Hitler convinced me to find out more about his record, and the more I read the more outraged I became.

Buchanan has a history of defending Nazi war criminals and actually argued that the death camps at Treblinka couldn’t have executed anyone because the poison gas used was not toxic enough to kill. Buchanan’s theory seems to be that Jews took over American foreign policy after the war and lied to us about everything, that Jewish global interests were paramount in American governmental thinking, and that they even outweighed United States security interests. The death camps? “Group fantasies of martydom,” he called them. Even as serious a commentator as William F. Buckley said, “I find it impossible to defend Pat Buchanan against the charge that what he did and said . . . amounted to anti-Semitism. . . .”

Pat Buchanan has been guilty of many egregious examples of intolerance. He has systematically bashed Blacks, Mexicans, and Gays. In 1983, saying that homosexuals had “declared war on nature,” he said that AIDS is nature’s “awful retribution.” Only three years ago he said that he would not hire Gays in his administration. He believes Gays are “hellbent on Satanism and suicide.”

In 1983 he said, “Women are simply not endowed by nature with the same measures of single-minded ambition and the will to succeed in the fiercely competitive world of Western capitalism.”

Of the big cities, Buchanan said that “quasi-dictatorial rule” might be the solution: “If the people are corrupt, the more democracy, the worse the government.”

He spoke out in favor of apartheid.

Buchanan’s extremist views have to be challenged by someone.

Do I need to be president to feel good about myself? I feel pretty good right now. People say I do things because I have a big ego. I’ve never met a person who’s successful who didn’t have an ego. There’s nothing wrong with it. I get teased for putting the Trump name on my buildings and casinos. Mostly it’s a marketing strategy; Trump buildings get higher rents. A similar building across the street cannot command the rent a Trump building can because in my business Trump means quality. I’ve been teased about whether I’d like to see the name Trump on the White House. I pledge I would not rename the White House. I would only want my name on the desk in the Oval Office.

I would bring a different approach to the presidency. I am convinced that the challenges we will soon face will require a president who is not fixated on popularity polls and reelection. I would enter office with the understanding that four years hence I would be back in New York doing the job I love.

I would center my presidency on three principles: one term, two-fisted policies, and no excuses. For voters it would be a business approach, and the best one available in the presidential marketplace. I’d lead by example. And what I could also bring to the presidency is a new spirit, a great spirit that we haven’t had in this country for a long time — the kind of spirit that built the American Dream.

-Excerpt courtesy of Archive.org.

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