Folks, I just hung up the phone with a man who didn’t like a mention of him in a post last week on Gov. Rick Perry’s poll numbers. A man whose flirtations with running for president sent the political world into a frenzy earlier this year. A man whose birther antics thoroughly polluted American political discourse by perpetrating a lie. That man is Donald Trump. And, trust me, we have not seen or heard the last of him.
What led to our conversation was my Aug. 25 post “Not sure Rick Perry’s poll vault will trump Mitt Romney” and what was an innocent line. “Of course, I’m talking about Donald Trump,” I wrote. “Remember his rise and fall?” Trump didn’t like my use of the word “fall.” I should have used “collapsed.”
Jonathan - There was no “fall” - I was leading in the polls when I decided, at least for the moment, not to run - See Meet The Press, May 15/11.
Ok, I’m sure you tripped over the same phrase I did -- “at least for the moment.” There have been rumblings that the Manhattan real-estate mogul might jump into the presidential race as an independent, ever since he floated the idea back in April. Well, the reality television star is still thinking about it.
“We’ll see who the Republicans choose,” Trump told me during an amiable 20-minute telephone conversation, and whether the economy continues to be bad. (“I think it will,” he says.) Those are the two criteria that will determine whether he gives an independent bid a green light.
He wants the GOP to choose someone who can beat President Obama and “bring this country back” because it’s “falling apart.” When I asked him if any of the eight candidates set to debate on Sept. 7 appealed to him, Trump would only say, “I’m meeting with Romney. Bachmann called two days ago. Perry called.” Trump’s love of Perry has already been documented.
Speaking of Sept. 7 and Trump being Trump, he couldn’t resist weighing in on yesterday’s joint-session snafu. “I think Obama made a mistake to ask for Sept. 7,” he said. “And the Republicans made a mistake not letting him do it.” He said that it would have been “amazing” to have the two spectacles happen simultaneously and would have highlighted the importance of the jobs issue. Ultimately, Trump said, Obama comes out the winner in the fight because “he gets a second shot. He made the better deal.”
Trump also had choice words for the Republican leadership. Discussing the “amazingly foolish move” to allow Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) put out his Medicare plan, Trump said, “I lost confidence in the Republican leadership,” adding, “that hasn’t changed.”
The Super Committee “is ridiculous” and “a disaster.” While everyone views the deal that raised the debt ceiling as a victory for Republicans, Trump sees it as the reverse because the president got the one thing he wanted above all else: the cuts and the impact of the tough decisions won’t happen until after the election.
I couldn’t hang up the phone with Trump without asking why he didn’t give me any pushback in his note or on the call on all the harsh criticism of him and his peddling in birther nonsense. “I have been given great credit for that,” he said, referring to Obama’s release of his birth certificate. “I got him to show it.” When I mentioned that the president already had, Trump regurgitated the litany of lies that continue to fuel birther conspiracy theories to this day. Perhaps sensing I was about to pounce, Trump moved on and said, “I’m about jobs....It’s now about putting the country back together” and getting the economy moving.
That was probably the only thing on which he and I agreed.