Future American President Donald J. Trump appears to be a tad germophobic.
“One of the curses of American society is the simple act of shaking hands, and the more successful and famous one becomes the worse this terrible custom seems to get,” the 2016 Republican presidential frontrunner wrote in his book The Art of the Comeback, published in 1997. “I happen to be a clean hands freak. I feel much better after I thoroughly wash my hands, which I do as much as possible.” (He has repeatedly described the custom of handshaking as “barbaric,” because of the germs.)
But his fear of disease goes well beyond his worries about catching a cold from glad handers. According to an early ‘90s Associated Press article, Trump—then a “newly eligible bachelor”—talked about how he asked women to agree to an AIDS test at his doctor’s office before he would take them out on a date.
“It’s one of the worst times in the history of the world to be dating,” he explained in late June 1991, roughly four months before Magic Johnson announced that he tested HIV-positive, and before Queen frontman Freddie Mercury died of AIDS.
Trump made his comments shortly after his divorce from Ivana Trump was finalized, and after he had been seen out on the town with TV personality Marla Maples and then model Carla Bruni.
“I have been known to say that to women,” the real estate mogul and notorious womanizer told Newsday when asked if he actually asked potential lovers to test for STDs. “It’s one way to be careful. There are a lot of ways. I’m saying, take all of those ways and double them, because you will need them…It’s very scary out there.”
After some years of wooing and HIV-testing, Trump would settle down and remarry, twice. But along the way there was one famous woman he regretted never asking out: Princess Diana.
“Do you think you would have seriously had a shot?” NBC’s Stone Phillips asked Trump during a Dateline segment from November 1997. (Princess Diana had died that past August.) “I think so, yeah,” Trump replied. “I always have a shot.”
Trump claimed he never asked her out because he was always too busy. It is unclear if The Donald would have AIDS-tested the late Princess of Wales, had he not been so busy.