Got Your Back
05.25.12 8:45 AM ET
Mitt Romney’s New BFF: Donald Trump
First things first: Donald Trump is delighted that Mitt Romney is using The Donald’s star power to lure lottery contestants and donors to a major fundraiser June 28 for Romney’s presidential juggernaut.
Newsweek & The Daily Beast’s John Avlon, Lloyd Grove and Pete Dominick on Trump’s latest birther tour
“I’m honored that they feel that way about me,” Trump told The Daily Beast on Thursday night, as the reality-television star/real-estate mogul was being described in the media as the Republican answer to George Clooney (whose movie-star magnetism helped raise $15 million for President Obama at a similarly touted event two weeks ago). “I feel strongly that Mitt is really doing well. I think he’s gonna be a great candidate and a great president. We need a great president. I feel a lot of people listen to what I have to say.”
No sooner were those dutifully gooey sentiments out of the way than The Donald—who plans to host a lunch or dinner for the presumptive GOP nominee and some of his lucky supporters at one of the Trump properties in Manhattan—launched into a furious disquisition concerning Obama’s place of birth.
“Look, it’s very simple,” said Trump, who has spent the past 13 months questioning Obama’s constitutional eligibility to occupy the White House (and only doubled down with his stubborn skepticism after Obama produced a long-form birth certificate, certifying he was born on Aug. 4, 1961, in Hawaii, and then hilariously roasted him at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner. “A book publisher came out three days ago and said that in his written synopsis of his book,” Trump went on, “he said he was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia. His mother never spent a day in the hospital.”
Actually, Obama’s literary agency at the time, two decades ago, published a recently discovered catalogue of clients and their projects that included erroneous information about Obama and a prospective book about race that he ended up not writing. An agency assistant back then, Miriam Goderich, said last week that she was mistaken when she wrote that Obama was born in Kenya.
But Trump isn’t buying it.
“That’s what he told the literary agent,” Trump insisted. “That’s the way life works… He didn’t know he was running for president, so he told the truth. The literary agent wrote down what he said… He said he was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia… Now they’re saying it was a mistake. Just like his Kenyan grandmother said he was born in Kenya, and she pointed down the road to the hospital, and after people started screaming at her she said, ‘Oh, I mean Hawaii.’ Give me a break.”
The Democratic National Committee was quick to pounce on Romney’s apparent willingness to be associated with Trump’s birtherism after The Apprentice star’s role was disclosed in an emailed Romney campaign fundraising solicitation earlier Thursday.
“Once again Mitt Romney is failing the moral leadership test,” DNC press secretary Melanie Roussell said in a statement. “Instead of rejecting Donald Trump’s ‘birther’ conspiracy theories and divisive attacks, he’s endorsing them by campaigning and fundraising with him… This type of false and extremely divisive rhetoric has no place in the political discourse of our country and Mitt Romney should stand up against it instead of standing with Donald Trump to raise money for his campaign.”
Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt chimed in: “Quite the match for a candidate who said he likes being able to fire people.”
The Romney campaign didn’t respond to request for comment by deadline. Nor did George Clooney, who erected a tent on the basketball court of his Los Angeles estate to accommodate 150-odd Hollywood types who paid $40,000 a plate (plus two lucky civilians who were among more than a million who bought $3 lottery tickets), not to mention additional millions from eager donors who didn’t attend.
Trump—who displayed his patented genius for self-promotion last year by flirting with running for president himself—declined to predict whether his fundraiser next month will come anywhere near the Clooney number. (Prices haven’t been set, but lottery contenders also will be charged $3 per ticket for a shot at attending.)
“I don’t know,” he said, noting that he raised more than $600,000 recently at two $1,000-a-person receptions for Ann Romney, with 600 women at his and Melania’s apartment in Trump Tower. “A lot of that money [for Obama, at the time of the Clooney dinner] poured in automatically because they did it the day after he came out in favor of same-sex marriage. It wasn’t because of the dinner.” As for the June 28 Trump/Romney meal, fortunate attendees will receive, according to the campaign, “airport transportation in the Trump vehicle… stay at the Trump International Hotel & Tower… [get a] tour of Trump Tower” and “dine with Donald Trump and Mitt Romney.” Trump will host a fundraiser for Romney, featuring a drop-by by former rival Newt Gingrich, next Tuesday at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas.
Trump, meanwhile, confirmed reports that he is planning to start a self-funded super PAC in support of the Romney campaign. “We may do our own commercials out of the super PAC,” he said, adding that he has yet to focus on the enterprise.
Before The Donald hopped on the phone, his in-house political adviser, attorney Michael Cohen, called Trump “a very significant surrogate” for Romney—somewhat of a downgrade from his claim to ABC News that Trump is “the single most significant surrogate for Governor Romney.” Cohen sounded slightly aggrieved that Clooney would be mentioned in the same breath as his fearless leader.
“Donald Trump’s popularity is substantially greater than that of George Clooney,” Cohen maintained, though he offered no supporting statistics. “I think it’s just self-evident.”
Who is more handsome?
“Next question. These are silly questions. Why don’t you ask me who’s richer?”
“Donald Trump—by a lot.”
Quien es mas macho?
“Yo no se,” Cohen gamely responded.