Donald Trump is trying to set the record straight: He actually had a blast at the White House Correspondents Association dinner, and just wasn’t sure how he was supposed to react to being taunted by the president.
Trump also calls himself ratings gold, evaluates the GOP hopefuls and suggests his own endorsement is the one worth waiting for. And based on their treks to Trump Tower, some seem to think so too.
“The Republican field has several good candidates in the race — most of whom have come to see me at my office in Trump Tower,” The Donald writes in his new book, out this week. “The reason they come to see me isn’t just because I am a nice person but because millions of people listen to what I say and know I ‘get it.’ Some magazines have said I am the single most important endorsement a presidential candidate can have. I don’t know if that’s true but it wouldn’t surprise me. I don’t say that to brag, I just tell it like it is.”
“Time to Get Tough: Making America #1 Again,” put out by the conservative publishing house Regnery, focuses heavily on the frequent fire-breathing cable news network guest, developer and reality TV star’s prescriptions for nation-curing.
The book reads like a Trump interview on TV — he volunteers to show the reader proof that Jon Huntsman called him and asked to speak with him, questions why President Obama gets so much credit for Osama bin Laden’s death and beings sentences with, “Here’s the deal.”
He claims credit for creating Lady Gaga.
“She became a big star and maybe she became a star because I put her on the Miss Universe Pageant. It’s very possible, who knows what would have happened without it, because she caused a sensation,” he writes.
Chapters are entitled “Get tough,” “Take the Oil,” “Tax China to Save American Jobs,” “A Safety Net, Not a Hammock” — all hitting on the same protectionist, smaller government themes that Trump strummed when he toyed with a presidential run back in the spring, harnessing a take-the-fight-to-Obama message that left an imprint on how the GOP primary candidates have campaigned.
Trump wraps the book with an afterward on “The Press and the Presidency,” in which he lambastes by name reporters he felt were dishonest, recaps some of the more notable moments of his exploratory effort and evaluates the GOP hopefuls who had come to meet with him prior to the book going to press.
“I think I’ve had a very big impact [on the course of the race], and they’re not coming up to ask me for money, they’re coming up to ask me for an endorsement,” Trump told POLITICO in an interview last week about the book.
“I love the country and they’re talking about the wrong things,” he says of the current White House, in a refrain that helped him stoke polls earlier this year. “We use to be one of the great [countries] and now we’re a laughingstock.”
Trump didn’t rule out an independent run himself, either in the book or in his POLITICO interview, when asked whether he would be willing to run with the group Americans Elect, which is trying to get on the ballot for a third-party candidacy in every state. But he says his NBC show “The Apprentice” — which he cited in pulling out of the race in the spring — would keep him from running, because of equal time laws and his contract.
Trump said he will likely endorse in the GOP race, but didn’t put a timeframe on it.
In the last chapter, he writes up the field of hopefuls who have come to see him.
Michele Bachmann: “A wonderful person and no matter what happens with her run for the White House she’s got a great political future ahead of her.”
Rick Perry: “Every time I speak to him he is so forceful and strong that I have actually said to him: ‘Rick, why can’t you act this way during the debates?’ He said, ‘Donald, the debates are just not my thing.’ So I said, ‘Why don’t you pretend you are someplace else? You gotta act different. You are getting killed in the debates.’ “
Mitt Romney: “When you meet him in person, he is a much different guy than he is in public. He is warm and engaging. The public has to get to know him better.”
Herman Cain: “When Herman left Trump Tower, the press swarmed over him and I was told he said something like, ‘Look…I wanted to get to know him and I wanted him to like me because he’s got the most vicious mouth for anybody he doesn’t like and I didn’t wnat him badmouthing me.’ I thought it was extremely cute and honest and I do indeed like Herman Cain.”
Trump, who is moderating a NewsMax-sponsored debate on Dec. 27, doesn’t mention Ron Paul, whom he has feuded with as recently as this weekend, or Gingrich, whom he is meeting Monday for the first time.
The book is an extended screed against the Obama administration, including many of the criticisms Trump made when he was weighing a presidential run back in the spring, and ones he’s made since in interviews.
He raps the president over the Solyndra scandal, quotes Sen. Everett Dirksen to make points and suggests that legal immigration ought to be reformed into something akin to a merit system based on what people are doing for society.
On Osama bin Laden, he says, “It’s wonderful that we got him, but what sane person would have decided otherwise? Why does Obama get so much credit? I know that’s not politically correct to say, but if somebody can explain that to me, I would be very grateful. Our military deserves all the credit, not Obama,” he writes, adding later, “His national security instincts are almost always wrong.”
Trump hits Karl Rove — whom he says solicited him for money for his group “American Crossroads” for going after him. Though they’ve made peace, Trump writes, if Rove does it again “I’ll go after him like nobody has ever gone after him before.”
Trump also insists that he got a kick out being taunted by the president at the Correspondent’s Dinner in April, where Obama roasted the developer over his “birtherism” crusade by displaying .
“The fact is, I loved the evening and I loved what the president was saying because even though they were jokes, he was telling them in a nice and respectful way and he did a good job telling them,” Trump writes in “Time to Get Tough: Making America #1 Again,” which is being put out by the conservative Regnery Publishing.
The president mocked Trump’s birtherism push, with a copy of his birth certificate on large screens as pro-America music blared. Trump was written up for not smiling during the roast.
“The president spent a lot of time telling jokes about me, I didn’t quite know how to react. Should I be laughing? Smiling? Frowning? I wasn’t sure so I decided to keep a straight face, with a few little smiles every once in a while because I knew the cameras were on me.”
He wrote that he turned to his wife and said, “‘Baby, do you believe this? This is amazing. The president of the United States is doing nothing but talking about me.’ I loved it! I was having a great time!”
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