Donald Trump said in an interview Tuesday morning that he has done more to achieve racial equality than anyone else and gave the example of his private Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, which he says is "totally open to everybody."
The comment came up during an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America" when host George Stephanopoulos asked Trump if he would denounce all white supremacists who are supporting his campaign. Although Trump has repeatedly disavowed a former leader of the KKK who has urged people to vote for the Republican front-runner, Trump declined to clearly denounce the KKK during an interview on Sunday, saying that he must research individuals and groups before condemning them. The comment immediately sparked angry criticism, especially from Trump's GOP rivals. On Monday, Trump said he couldn't fully hear the question when it was being asked because of a faulty earpiece.
"Of course I am, of course I am," Trump said, when asked if he is denouncing the support of all white supremacists. "I mean there's nobody that has done so much for equality as I have. You take a look at Palm Beach, Florida, I built the Mar-a-Lago Club, totally open to everybody. A club that, frankly, set a new standard — a new standard in clubs and a new standard in Palm Beach — and I've got great credit for it. That is totally open to everybody. So, of course I am."
Mar-a-Lago is a historical mansion with more than 100 rooms that opened in 1927 and was once home to Marjorie Merriweather Post, then one of the richest women in the world. Trump bought the estate from a foundation in 1985 and used it as a private residence for about a decade. In 1995, Trump turned the home into an exclusive private club, adding a swimming pool, beauty salon, spa, clay tennis courts and a croquet court. The ballroom was renovated in 2005 and is now called the "Donald J. Trump Grand Ballroom."
The club's website states: "Membership at the club provides the highest privileges and an elite lifestyle reserved for a select few." The club charges a $100,000 initiation fee plus annual dues of $14,000.
Trump plans to host a press conference at the club on Tuesday night as "Super Tuesday" results are released.
As soon as Trump moved into the neighborhood, he clashed with the Palm Beach establishment, battling them in a series of lawsuits. Trump alleged that the town was discriminating against him and his club because it was open to Jews and African Americans. At one point, Trump's lawyer sent each town council member a copy of two movies about discrimination: “A Gentleman’s Agreement,” about a journalist who pretends to be Jewish to expose anti-Semitism, and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” about a white couple’s reaction to their daughter bringing home a black fiance, The Washington Post reported.
In a 1997 Wall Street Journal article about the club, then-director of the Anti-Defamation League Abraham Foxman praised Trump's efforts: "He put the light on Palm Beach. Not on the beauty and the glitter, but on its seamier side of discrimination. It has an impact."