Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again Hardcover Donald Trump (2016)
NICE GUYS CAN FINISH FIRST
I’M A NICE GUY. I really am. But I have a nasty habit that most career politicians don’t have: I tell the truth. I’m not afraid to say exactly what I believe. When I’m asked a question, I don’t answer with a speech that ignores a controversial subject. I answer the question.
Sometimes people don’t like my answers. Too bad.
So they attack me. And when someone attacks me, I fight back. Hard.
That has always been my philosophy: If my critics attack me, then I’ll fight back. Let’s be honest and truthful with one another. I’m confident my answer makes the most sense.
You know who really appreciates this approach? The American people.
They’re not used to hearing the truth from politicians, but they love it, and they love hearing it from me.
They have never seen anyone like me in politics. They have never seen anyone who is willing to stand up to the lobbyists, the PACs, the special interests, who all have way too much influence over Washington politicians. I am paying my own way so I can say whatever I want. I will only do what is right for our country, which I love.
Sometimes there is a price I pay for that. Loyalty is extremely important to me. My family and close friends will say that I am loyal to a fault. That’s why, when I announced that I was running, I was very interested to see which of my so-called friends would remain loyal to me.
In politics, 55 percent of the vote is considered a landslide—but that means 45 percent of the people are against you. I’ve never had 45 percent against me. When I went to events, people would cheer, I would hear very few boos or hecklers. But when you run for political office, suddenly you hear some boos in the background. One night, at a charity event where I had made a major contribution, my wife, Melania, was with me as I was cheered loudly. But we were surprised to hear a small number of people booing in the background. Melania said to me, “Darling, do you know what? You’ve never been booed before.” I looked at her and said, “Welcome to the world of politics.”
In fact, I have been surprised by some people I once considered friends. One of my biggest surprises was Macy’s. I’ve had a long and good relationship with the chairman and CEO, Terry Lundgren—a very nice guy and good executive. I’ve sold shirts, ties, cuff links, and fragrances at Macy’s. We’ve done very well. I like the fact that Trump was the only brand that could sell a $50 million apartment and a $37 tie.
Terry Lundgren was a good friend. We spent a lot of time together at Mar-a-Lago and at many Trump golf courses. I’ve introduced him to people who have become good friends of his. I got a call from him in August 2015 when I was receiving a lot of bad press regarding my statements about illegal immigration. I was getting ready to speak to a large crowd in New Hampshire when my cell phone rang. The emcee on the dais had already started introducing me—he was talking about some of my buildings, how well I was doing in the polls. But when I saw Terry—a friend—was calling, I answered.
“Donald, Donald, I have to speak to you,” he said in a rushed and nervous tone. “We’re receiving calls from Mexicans. They’re going to picket Macy’s.”
I said, “That’s no big deal. They’ll be there for an hour.”
“I can’t let this happen,” he said. “It wouldn’t be good for our company’s reputation.”
I told him I was getting ready to make a speech and couldn’t talk to him, but said pointedly, “If you do this, it would truly be an act of disloyalty because you’re getting a little bit of heat over selling my ties and shirts. Aside from that, it wouldn’t make me look very good.”
Terry said, “I’ve got to do something. We’re putting out a press release that we’re terminating you.” Wow, I thought to myself, and this is a company that just paid a massive fine for some terrible acts to its customers. Not nice!
As he read the release the emcee announced my name and the crowd roared. “Wait a second. You’re reading this while I have to speak to this packed house? Can’t it wait until tomorrow?”
“We have to do it now,” he said. “It can’t wait.”
“Wow. What a great act of disloyalty. I’m telling you that if they picket, they’ll be there for an hour. Nobody cares.”
My ties, shirts, cuff links, and fragrances are now available at Trump Tower, not at Macy’s. I’ve been told that many thousands of people cut up their Macy’s credit cards and mailed them back to the store because of this. The public gets it.
I’ve also heard that other companies have stopped doing business with Macy’s. And at least one prominent businessman told me, “I can’t believe how disloyal Terry Lundgren was.” He added jokingly, “He used Mar-a-Lago more than you do!”
Likewise, NBC and Univision refused to broadcast the Miss Universe/Miss USA Pageants. I sued NBC, but settled after buying its half of the company and selling the whole thing to IMG. Currently I am suing Univision for a substantial amount of money.
I’d had a long and very successful relationship with NBC, which made millions broadcasting my top-rated show, The Apprentice. But before this happened I’d told them that if I ran for president, because of the equal-time regulations, I would not be doing the show anymore. The Apprentice had already been renewed and top executives of NBC and Comcast came to my office to try to convince me to change my mind.
Steve Burke of Comcast, NBC’s president Bob Greenblatt, and Paul Telegdy, head of reality television, are great guys, and my relationship with all of them has been an amazing experience. I’m so glad we settled our litigation, and life goes on.
My lawsuit against Univision continues though, and at some point I expect to win a lot of money from them. They broke a contract and for that they must pay. It’s sad because I had such a great liking for the two top executives, Randy Falco and Beau Ferrari. Who knows? At some point we’ll probably have that relationship again.
The publicity about severing ties those first few weeks was relentless: ESPN BREAKS TIES WITH TRUMP—even though I never had a deal with ESPN. They were using my golf course on the Pacific Ocean, Trump National Los Angeles, for a golf outing. NASCAR CUTS ALL TIES WITH TRUMP—but I had no ties with NASCAR, they were renting a ballroom at Trump National Doral for their annual banquet. And, in fact, I kept their substantial deposits and will rent those places to someone else—hopefully for more money.
Things have calmed down and people are now giving me great credit for raising the problem of illegal immigration. I made that issue so important because it is so important to the future of America. I wasn’t surprised it caused a lot of problems. Most politicians don’t want to get too close to something that controversial. I don’t care. I learned how to be direct, how to be honest, and how to stand up for my beliefs from my father.
Fred Trump, my wonderful, tough but loving father, built, owned, and managed buildings in Queens and Brooklyn. He made enough money to just sit back and relax, but that wasn’t who he was. Even on weekends he’d be walking through a building, a house, or a construction site. If the halls were dirty or a bulb was out, the people working there would know about it. My father wasn’t overly concerned with hurting someone’s feelings—he wanted the floors to be cleaned or, as he would often say, in “mint condition.” If the person responsible couldn’t keep them clean, he was gone. My father believed he had an obligation to his tenants. His motto was simple: You do your job, you keep your job. Do it well, you get a better job. That always made sense to me.
Unfortunately, politics doesn’t work that way. In politics, once someone gets elected, it’s tough to get them out. There’s no motivation to try to get anything done. If the American public had any idea what really goes on, they’d be much angrier than they are already. Congress’s approval rating would be even lower than it is now. Career politicians like it this way; being a politician is their career. I know many of them; believe me, they couldn’t get a job in private industry. They don’t want anyone taking away their great pension plan and health benefits—that you are paying for.
The special interests and lobbyists also like it this way. They’re earning a lot of money selling influence—and giving away money is a lot easier than cleaning floors. Believe me, I know how it works, I’ve made a lot of campaign contributions.
I’m not taking a penny from those people. I’m paying my own way. So the old rules don’t apply to me—and those people who benefit from those rules don’t know how to react. At first they hoped if they ignored me I would go away. The American people certainly proved them wrong. They love the fact that someone is finally standing up for their interests!
They couldn’t ignore me, so they started attacking me. These veteran politicians looked for the place I was most vulnerable—which is why they attacked my hair, which is mine, by the way. They showed a lot of courage attacking my hair; this resulted in what might be the strangest political headline ever written when NBC News reported: TRUMP DEFENDS HAIR, ATTACKS MEDIA AT CAMPAIGN RALLY!
Recently though, they have been claiming I haven’t put out enough specifics. There’s a good reason for this, and it fits perfectly with my overall philosophy of leadership: Many of our problems, caused by years of stupid decisions or no decisions at all, have grown into a huge mess. If I could wave a magic wand and fix them, I’d do it. But there are a lot of different voices—and interests—that have to be considered when working toward solutions. This involves getting people into a room and negotiating compromises until everyone walks out of that room on the same page.
No one likes to compromise. Believe me, I will never compromise on the basic principles I’m discussing in this book. Yet every party to a decision needs to feel his position is understood. The hardest part of putting up a building is getting the city officials, the city council, the environmentalists, local zoning boards, and the ever-critical media to agree that this was an acceptable project. Then we have to bring in the banks, the contractors, and the unions to make sure the project is financially feasible.
If I’d said at the beginning, “This is exactly the way we’re going to construct this building,” the headlines would have announced: MAJOR OPPOSITION TO NEW TRUMP PROJECT! Nothing would get done.
The same principles apply to management of the federal government. Congress can’t pass a budget because no one knows how to negotiate with the various interests involved in funding our government. Most of the time Congress simply accepts last year’s spending, which was a continuation of the previous year’s spending. That is followed by an agreement on an emergency temporary stopgap measure. There is no final resolution, so the same broken process is repeated year after year.
We need to find the best people, including experts in various fields and economists, as well as congressional leaders to provide perspective and determine which programs are working and should be kept or expanded, which programs should be cut, and what new programs might be added to deal with the changing world. Career politicians always claim to have these answers—but how is that possible when they haven’t properly analyzed the situation?
A great leader has to be flexible, holding his ground on the major principles but finding room for compromises that can bring people together. A great leader has to be savvy at negotiations so we don’t drown every bill in pork barrel bridges to nowhere. I know how to stand my ground—but I also know that Republicans and Democrats need to find common ground to stand on as well.
We need to see more real achievements in the first 100 days of the next administration than we’ve seen in the seven years of the Obama presidency. Washington needs to get moving in the right direction again. Hopefully you will understand that is more important than all the wonky details of grand plans that will never be enacted.
And by the way, I have outlined plenty of policy initiatives. This is not “the politics of hope.” This is “the politics of reality,” which only a strong businessman like me can develop.
Another favorite gimmick my opponents use to attack my ideas is to claim I’m not a conservative, or not even a Republican. Or worse, I’m not a politician! They claim this makes it impossible for me to get things done in Washington.
I’ve got news for them: Washington doesn’t work.
Ironically, it was this type of criticism that helped my ideas attract attention and gain popularity in the first place. The contrast reminded Americans what they really think of career politicians.
As for being a Republican and conservative, let me tell you a story about how our political system really works. In May 2015 the president of a major conservative advocacy group, the Club for Growth, came up to my office in Trump Tower. He seemed like a very nice, reasonable guy. During that meeting he said some very complimentary things about my business success and told me that people like me were needed in Washington.
A week later we received a letter from him reading, “As we both know, it is business owners who create jobs—not the government.” Then he asked for a million-dollar donation.
A million dollars!
When I turned him down he attacked me in the press. I was not a real candidate, he said, “and it would be unfortunate if I took away a spot at even one Republican debate.”
Take away a spot from whom? Someone, I suspect, who gave them that big donation.
When I pulled ahead in the polls, this group spent a million dollars on ads attacking me in Iowa. This is one smart group; they come to my office asking for a million-dollar donation—and it ends up costing them a million dollars.
Meanwhile they’re bad-mouthing me to their followers: “Donald Trump is the worst kind of politician who will say anything to get elected.” Saying anything to them means telling the truth to me.
This demonstrates everything that is wrong with our political system. We look at politicians and think: This one’s owned by this millionaire. That one’s owned by that millionaire, or lobbyist, or special interest group.
Me? I speak for the people.
So the establishment attacks me. They can’t own me, they can’t dictate to me, so they search for ways to dismiss me. They point out (accurately, for once) that at one time I was a registered Democrat. I grew up and worked in New York, where virtually everyone is a Democrat.
You know who else was a Democrat? Ronald Reagan. He switched, and I switched years ago, when I began to see what liberal Democrats were doing to our country. Now I’m a conservative Republican with a big heart. I didn’t decide to become a Republican. That’s who I have always been.
By nature, I’m a conservative person. I believe in a strong work ethic, traditional values, being frugal in many ways and aggressive in military and foreign policy. I support a tight interpretation of the Constitution, which means judges should stick to precedent and not write social policy.
I represent traditional conservative values. I get up every morning and go to work. I work hard, I’ve been honest and I’m very successful. The billions I have? I earned every penny. When I was beginning my career my father never gave me much money, but he gave me a great work ethic. I always know a hater when they say my father gave me $200 million when I was starting out. I only wish!
Number one: He didn’t have that kind of money. In those days, all of Brooklyn wasn’t worth $200 million. And number two: If he did, he would never have given it to me.
When I wanted to leave Brooklyn and Queens and venture into Manhattan, he thought I was crazy. Nevertheless he had confidence in me. I’ll never forget when he told my incredible mother, “Look, I don’t know if he is right or wrong, but I’ve got to let him do it. He has great ability and talent, and who knows? He may be able to pull it off.” My father was a tough cookie, but he had a warm heart. He was a man who truly loved his wife and five children: Maryanne, Elizabeth, Robert, Fred, and me. He always wanted what was best for us.
He loaned me a small amount of money—loaned, not gave—around $1 million—money that I probably could have gotten from a bank—and the biggest part of my journey began. I paid my father back a few years later, with full interest, after my Manhattan deals started to come in—and very successfully. One of them, the Grand Hyatt Hotel, was a big hit, built by me—on time and under budget. I made a lot of money. He was very happy and even more proud of me than ever before.
When my father passed away at the age of 93, he left his estate to his children. By that time, I had already built a massive and internationally recognized company. After the family split the assets and estate taxes, the money I got was—relative to what I had built—not that consequential. Nice to have but not a big-money factor. What he left me, much more importantly, were the best “genes” that anybody could get. He was a special man and father.
Let’s review the conservative scorecard and check my grades:
Affordable health care? Here’s my word—and I never go back on my word: Obamacare needs to be repealed ASAP—and replaced with something far better.
Immigration reform? Has anybody been more of a leader on this issue than me? My plan is simple: We build a wall and take back control of our country. Massive law enforcement on the borders. Legal immigrants should speak or learn English; without it they can never assimilate.
Anchor babies? They’re here for one day and the child is entitled to a lifetime of benefits when others have spent a lifetime, or their lives, earning them. This needs to end!
The Iran deal? Iran cannot be allowed to build a nuclear weapon. That’s not a threat. It’s a statement of fact. Our allies and foes alike should take heed.
The Second Amendment? I believe the rights of law-abiding gun owners must be fully protected.
Defense of religious freedom? I believe religious freedom is the most fundamental constitutional right we have and must be protected.
Fix our broken tax system? There is no politician who understands our tax system like I do. It has to be changed to make it fair for all Americans—and simplified.
I am a strong, proud conservative. The biggest difference between me and all the do-nothing politicians who are all talk, no action? Those people constantly claiming they are more conservative than anyone else? I don’t talk about things, I get things done.
I am standing up for this country because our so-called leaders haven’t been able to. So the next time someone questions my conservative credentials, show them this list!