It seems that, crazy though it may sound, it’s time to take Donald Trump seriously as a 2016 presidential candidate.
In a national poll released Thursday, the elaborately coiffed blowhard was revealed to be leading the GOP presidential field by a very wide margin, with 20 percent of Republican-leaning voters saying they’d vote for Trump, compared to 13 percent for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and 10 percent for Florida Governor Jeb Bush. The 20 percent share collected by Trump is the largest of any candidate in the Quinnipiac University poll’s two-year history. And the Democrats have officially taken notice, assigning a DNC staffer to monitor The Donald “like a serious presidential candidate,” according to The Guardian.
The Donald has managed to surge in the polls despite asserting that Vietnam War POW John McCain was “not a war hero,” drawing public condemnation from the Republican base, as well as a racist announcement speech blanket labeling Mexican immigrants as drug dealers, criminals, and rapists that led to NBC and numerous other companies severing business ties with the finger-jabbing real estate mogul.
For a man who puts the “brag” in braggadocio, it comes as little surprise that Trump has a colorful and at times troubling past. The Daily Beast recently unearthed that during his divorce from Ivana Trump, his first ex-wife had accused him of “rape” (she’d later rescind the claim), leading Trump consigliere Michael Cohen to say last week, “You cannot rape your spouse. There’s very clear case law.” (This is, of course, patently false.)
Trump has also never met a camera he didn’t like, which is how he’s ended up on the Howard Stern Show on numerous occasions—a venue where subjects are grilled (and usually open up about) their sexual pasts and proclivities, and a couch that anyone with legitimate White House aspirations wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole. But The Donald went back again and again, showing sides of himself that most candidates for public office would prefer be kept private.
In a 2003 interview with Howard Stern promoting his new NBC series The Apprentice, Trump spent close to two minutes of airtime ogling Stern’s attractive new intern, Julie, on her first day of work. “By the way, your intern is incredible. Julie. It’s her first day. Get her out here, she’s amazing,” Trump told Stern, forcing the young woman on the air. “This could be a real… this could be a star. Come here, Julie. Look at the face… Potential stardom… She could be The Apprentice.” Trump, by the way, was dating Melania Knauss at the time, who would later become his third wife.
During that same interview, Trump mocked J. Lo’s ass (“I really like J. Lo but that ass is…. I mean…”), and, while discussing the women that are, in his not-so-humble opinion, the most beautiful in the world, would say very creepy things about Paris Hilton and his own daughter, Ivanka.
“Now, somebody who a lot of people don’t give credit to but is in actuality very beautiful is Paris Hilton,” Trump told Stern. “I’ve known Paris Hilton from the time she’s 12, her parents are friends of mine, and the first time I saw her she walked into the room and I said, ‘Who the hell is that?’ At 12, I wasn’t interested… but she was beautiful.” He also admitted to watching Paris Hilton’s sex tape with Knauss, despite knowing her since the age of 12 and being very close friends with the Hilton Family.
But he saved his strangest comments for Ivanka, who was 21 at the time. “You know who’s one of the great beauties of the world—according to everybody—and I helped create her? Ivanka. My daughter, Ivanka. She’s 6 feet tall, she’s got the best body. She made a lot of money as a model—a tremendous amount,” he said. “She’s considered one of the most beautiful women. And she really is, she’s a great beauty.”
And yet, the wildest and craziest interview Trump gave on the Stern Show came two years earlier, back in 2001.
Stern’s guest that morning was the New York Daily News’ volatile gossip columnist (and E! host) A.J. Benza, who was on to promote his recent tell-all tome, Fame, Ain’t It a Bitch. In the book, Benza claimed that his girlfriend, model Kara Young, had left him for Trump, and that the situation wasn’t exactly aboveboard.
So Trump, under the guise of promoting his Miss Universe Pageant, called in to the Stern Show to lord the situation over Benza, repeatedly belittling the tabloid writer for “stealing” his girlfriend a few years back.“I stole his girlfriend, but I didn’t know I was stealing your girlfriend,” said Trump, who claimed to have not known Benza was still dating Young while he was with her. “I’ve been successful with your girlfriend, I’ll tell you that,” he later added. “A.J., I won your girlfriend. You know it, she knows it, and everybody knows it.”
Trump’s declarations made Benza, a longtime Trump acquaintance and sorta-pal, irate, leading to a flurry of insults fired back-and-forth between the two egomaniacs. “[Kara] tells me you cut your own hair,” Benza told Trump. “You’ve got [hair] plugs, does the world know that?”
Benza later told Stern and Trump, “[Trump] used to call me when I was a columnist and say, ‘I was just in Russia, the girls have no morals, you gotta get out there.’ [Trump’s] out of his mind.”
“[Trump] sends things to [Kara] on paper from the news—clippings of all his articles he sends her, circles his name, and writes, ‘Billionaire,’” continued Benza. “He’s out of his mind.”
Trump, who’d seemingly instigated this on-air fight with Benza over his book, refuses to let the Kara Young situation go, twisting the knife in deeper and deeper.
“Trust me, A.J.—she didn’t love you,” Trump said. “I’m doing you a favor, A.J., she didn’t love you.” He later added, “A.J. doesn’t like Trump for one reason: I stole his girlfriend. I took her away like he was a dog.”
And this doozy: “While you were getting onto the plane to go to California thinkin’ that she was your girlfriend, she was some place that you wouldn’t have been very happy with.”
Benza eventually loses it, threatening to attack Trump with a baseball bat, and said some very gross things about Trump’s then-19-year-old daughter, Ivanka.
“I can’t wait ‘til your little daughter gets a little older for me,” said Benza, to which Trump replied, “Hey, A.J., I guarantee you have zero chance. A.J., any girl you have, I can take from you—if I want. Any girl you have, I can take from you. You’re full of shit. So any girl you have, I can take. That I guarantee. And that was proven before.”
After about 20 minutes of ranting and bloviating between the two men, Stern’s producer gets Young on the line. She hadn’t heard any of the fight but seemed completely shocked that Benza and Trump were parading her dirty laundry around on-air in front of millions of listeners.
“This is all things that were years ago that happened,” she told the two men and Stern. “They shouldn’t fight with each other because it’s something that’s old, because they have very big egos.”But Trump, not to be outdone, proceeded to talk over Young and Benza and, in a patronizing tone, get Young to admit that he stole her from him. “But Kara, you were going with A.J. when I met you. Kara, you were going with A.J. when I met you, is that correct?” he asked. “And you left A.J. after you met me, is that correct? Howard! She left A.J. after she met me!”
Later, he said to Benza: “You and Kara were going out together, you were going out to California but you were still very much with Kara. I started going with Kara while you and Kara were fully in bloom and fully going out, and then Kara left you. Is that correct, Kara?” “I think it’s sad that two grown men are doing this,” she replied.“Come on, Kara, tell him the truth,” continued Trump. “You gave up on the relationship after you met me!”
Despite everything that was said, by the end of the tumultuous and absurd half-hour spat, all parties seemed to have made up. And it was just another tale told by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.