Donald Trump the other day was answering e-mail, telephone calls and just plain ordinary mail from people -- lots and lots of them -- who want him to run for president. They were thrilled that he blasted Patrick Buchanan for writing that the United States did not have much of a beef with Adolf Hitler -- a fax he sent straight to a Sunday talk show. The New York Times noted that Trump, in his blast of a fax, spelled "Adolf" as "Adolph" and tweaked him for it, but Trump fans knew instinctively that their Donald is not one to wait for editing. (A secretary got the spelling wrong.) It is these little imperfections, anyway, that will make The Donald such a refreshing, if not strong, presidential candidate.
That, anyway, is the thinking of the very people who want the New York developer, gambling czar and serial name-dropper (his own) to run for president on the Reform Party ticket. One of those, as it turns out, is the Reform Party governor of Minnesota, the former wrestler known as Jesse "The Body" Ventura. It turns out Ventura has known Trump since Wrestlemania IV in Atlantic City. That was in 1988.
I pause now for my version of an editor's note. My column is published both here and abroad, and I can imagine some foreigner getting to this point and wondering what in the world I am talking about: Donald Trump, Wrestlemania, Jesse "The Body" Ventura and, somehow, Pat Buchanan and his views on Hitler. Wait, mes amis, it gets worse.
Rob Schroth is a Democratic pollster. He threw in some names when he polled earlier this year on presidential favorites: Tom Brokaw, Oprah Winfrey, Clint Eastwood, Trump and, of course, George W. Bush and Al Gore. Bush usually won, but in one poll The Donald came in second -- ahead of Gore. It turns out Trump is a major celebrity.
This was not news, however, to two guys -- one from California, the other from New Jersey -- who met on the Internet and realized they had something in common: an admiration for Trump. They created a Web page, www.thedonald2000.org, and claim, according to some Trump people, more than a million hits. Ventura again took note. The Donald, not (God forbid) Pat Buchanan, should be the Reform Party's presidential candidate. The party's nominee would get about $13 million in federal matching funds and, almost certainly, a seat with the regulars at the presidential debates. Trump, to hear his people tell it, is intrigued. Of course, $13 million is not a lot of money for a presidential campaign. But Trump has a truly bankable name. Everyone knows him -- his face, his best-seller book, his airplane, his hotels, his gambling casinos, his former wives, his current daughter, his friendship with the rap impresario Sean "Puffy" Combs and the outline of his riches to rags and then riches again story. This is a man who can get things done.
What's more, deep in the vaults of the Trump organization, past the counting rooms where the money is weighed, is a true fortune in demographic information. This is the skinny on the 6.5 million people who have gambled or merely stayed at Trump hotels. This information has been diced and chopped so many different ways there is nothing about these people that is not known. And what is known -- what is at least claimed -- is that they all have one thing in common: They love The Donald and his flamboyant style. Call him a high-rise Adam Clayton Powell. Call him anything you want. These people would love to call him Mr. President.
This sort of mega-celebrity is worth many millions of dollars. But The Donald has ideas as well. He has written a book, "The America We Deserve," which will be published later this year -- around the same time when, we are told, he will decide on whether to run for president.
My guess is that he won't (his real estate people are opposed), but who knows? The country is in an antsy and unpredictable mood (Where did George W. Bush come from, anyway?) and Minnesota chose Ventura when it was enjoying a historically low unemployment rate. It seems anything can happen if only because nothing of great consequence ever seems to.
Is the country ready for The Donald as a presidential candidate? Probably not -- but, if the answer is yes, I will go along, uncomprehending, asking of him only a position paper or two and a single pledge:
Keep your name off the White House.