I’ve interviewed Donald Trump several times and we hit it off. He brags too much for my taste, but that’s mainly on TV, when he’s telling people how great “The Apprentice” is, how wonderful his ratings are, and show biz stuff like that. But with just a few people around, he comes off as a regular guy – a regular guy with a great big private jet and a lot of money. The last time I did a Donald story was for HBO’s Real Sports, about a golf course he wants to build in Scotland. After the piece aired, word got back to me that he said, “Bernie didn’t do me any favors with that story, but he was fair.” That’s all a reporter can hope for.
I know there’s the temptation to say he’ll never run. That he’d never be able to work with people who, every few years, make promises they can’t keep, shamelessly pander for votes, and couldn’t figure out how to run a lemonade stand. These are the same chuckleheads, after all, who got us $14 trillion into debt. Can you see The Donald trying to talk money with the likes of them?
Besides, Trump has teased us before – and then said, not interested. The odds are he’s going to do it again.
But let’s not forget that if he decided to seek the Republican nomination, he’d be running against a bunch of professional politicians, many of whom put their little pinky in the air to see which way the wind is blowing before they take a stand on anything. Trump on the other hand doesn’t think or talk like a politician. (Big plus!) He doesn’t have a diplomatic bone in his body. (Very Big plus!!) He doesn’t care whose toes he steps on or whose feelings he hurts. And that includes the folks who run China. (Is that Hail to the Chief, I hear?)
The other day, Trump came out of the closet and declared himself a conservative. Speaking to several thousand activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, he said, “I can tell you this, if I run and if I win, this country will be respected again.”
The crowd loved it.
And then, not mincing words, Trump said, “If I decided to run, I will not be raising taxes, we’ll be taking back hundreds of billions of dollars from other countries that are screwing us, we’ll be creating vast numbers of productive jobs, and we’ll rebuild our country so that we can be proud.”
“Our country will be great again,” he said.
Of course, saying subversive stuff like that means liberal Democrats won’t vote for him, but so what? It’s a message tailor made for “ordinary” Americans who are fed up with anything resembling the status quo – and that includes a lot of independents, the folks who decide most elections these days.
None of this, of course, means he’ll actually run. But if The Donald decides to give it a shot, he could surprise a lot of so-called political pundits. Besides, stranger things have happened in the world of politics. Barack Obama’s rapid rise from oblivion to the White House is one of them.