Shortcuts / 02 July 2020
Donald Trump is probably the most talked about person on the planet. The leader of the free world had a colourful path to becoming President of the United States – and a turbulent time in office so far. Have a squiz at a young Donald Trump, his family, his business and showbiz careers as well as his politics.
What was his early life like?
Donald Trump was born in Queens, New York in 1946, which means he’s 74 years old. He is the son of prominent real estate developer Fred Trump and his Scottish-born wife, Mary. Fred made his fortune by building affordable housing for middle-income families along the east coast of America during and after World War Two. As for siblings, Donald Trump is the fourth of five kids – Maryanne, Fred Jr, Elizabeth and Robert.
What about his schooling?
It’s said Donald Trump misbehaved at school, so reports are his father sent him to a military academy when he was 13 in the hope that “the discipline of the school would channel his energy in a positive manner.” Trump has talked up his athletic feats from that time, and in his senior year he was voted the ‘ladies man’ because of his popularity. Trump went onto study economics at university and then started his career working for his dad’s company.
Who is his family?
Trump has been married three times. His first marriage was in 1977 to Czech model Ivana Zelníčková. They had three children together – Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric. The couple divorced in 1991 after Trump had an affair with actress Marla Maples, who he later married. They had one child together, Tiffany, however, they divorced in 1999. And in 2005, Trump married Slovenian model Melania Knauss, who is now the First Lady. They have one son together, Barron who is 14yo.
What is his personality like?
Like his Democratic challenger Joe Biden, Trump doesn’t drink alcohol. His brother, Fred Jr. died when he was 43 after longstanding issues with alcohol, and Trump said his tragic end is a reminder of how life can go, so he’s stayed off the grog. But he’s fairly fast and loose when it comes to junk food. He also doesn’t sleep much and doesn’t exercise although he is quite partial to a game of golf.
What was his early career like?
Trump started his career working for his father’s real estate company and become President of that company quite quickly. He was only in his mid-twenties when he took over the running of that big real estate business, it wasn’t long before he renamed it the Trump Organisation. He expanded the company’s operations from Queens and Brooklyn to Manhattan, where he really made a name for himself building and renovating skyscrapers and hotels. And he went on to build casinos and golf courses. The Trump Tower is quite a famous building on Fifth Avenue of course, and there are many more like it now around the world.
What are the concerns about Trump’s claims to success?
There has long been speculation about the true extent of Trump’s wealth. But of course, as he entered the political realm there’s been a lot of investigation into his wealth. Trump often says he started his career with “a small loan of one million dollars” from his father, and that he had to pay it back with interest. But reports have disputed this.
And he has really leant into using the Trump brand across a number of other ventures, there was Trump Vodka, a Trump airline, Trump casinos and even a Trump University. Some of those ventures worked, and many didn’t. And some – like Trump University, which was a real estate training program that ran from 2005 until 2010 – did damage to the brand when it was investigated for illegal business practices.
What about his career in showbiz?
Showbiz is really how Trump first came to the attention of the American public, for 14 years hosting the reality show The Apprentice, where contestants could compete to win a one-year job with the Trump Organization. He also owned and produced beauty pageants including Miss Universe and Miss USA.
What was his reputation like?
Putting it nicely, he was a prominent man about town in New York’s Manhattan… Putting it less delicately, he has since been accused of being a boorish misogynist. Some evidence from that time surfaced during his presidency unveiling a poor attitude towards women. And worse, there have been accusations of rape.
When did his interest in politics start?
Trump has long had an interest in politics. In the 80s and 90s he spoke about running for president. But it wasn’t until the early 2000s when his book ‘The America We Deserve’ was published that things started to get serious on that front.
Where does Trump sit in the political spectrum?
At the start of the 2000s, he said he held socially liberal and economically conservative political views. But in the lead up to the election and during his time in office, he has moved more to the right.
What were the policies he took to the 2016 Presidential Election?
Many may recall the result of the US election in 2016 – when he ran against Hillary Clinton – which he won under the banner of Make America Great Again. It was as much a political agenda as it was a call to Americans who felt the country was drifting. And it galvanised support for Trump around the positions that the US had given away too many jobs to countries like China, that it was doing bad deals on the international front like the Paris Climate Agreement that didn’t put America and Americans first.
Along with that America First agenda, he promised tax cuts, a border wall with Mexico, cracking down on immigration, getting American manufacturing up and running again, and a whole lot more. Some of these things he’s delivered, some he hasn’t. He also seemed to appeal parts of America with an anti-establishment agenda. It was really part of Trump’s campaign narrative that he positioned himself as the ‘outsider’, claiming Washington was corrupt and he said he would ‘drain the swamp’. He also took on the press claiming much of them were reporting ‘fake news’.
What’s his presidency been like?
Trump has been President for more than three years now, but his time in the White House hasn’t been without controversy. He’s picked fights with domestic friends and foes, and internationally. He became the third US president to be impeached by the House of Representatives. He is famously impatient with with meetings and briefings as he’s tweeted his way through his time in office. But some offer a less critical view, saying he’s done what he said he would – put America first. He’s looked to get the troops home form far flung conflicts, and he’s sought and got better trade deals for American exporters. And until the coronavirus crisis, the US economy was ticking along quite nicely.
How has COVID-19 affected Trump’s campaign?
Coronavirus has meant that campaigning the way Donald Trump did in 2016 is off the cards. In the lead up to the 2016 election Trump’s campaign was relentless and loud. Always a showman at heart and an eye for what makes good television, Trump was effective at holding huge rallies where commentators were aghast that he would say more and more outrageous things. His supporters, however, loved it. So those big rallies and the like, wont really be possible this time around given social distancing restrictions. But Trump is certainly keen to get the campaign on the road and has already been criticised for ignoring the health advice for planning big rallies that would put people in close proximity to one another.
How has Trump handled the coronavirus crisis?
The way he’s handled the coronavirus has been the way he’s handled so many other tense situations. He doesn’t necessarily adhere to the advice of experts, and he’s gone after those he holds responsible – China and the World Health Organisation. But with the US is the worst situation in world for the number of cases and deaths, and with an economy that’s under extreme pressure from health restrictions, he’s also facing a lot of scrutiny.
What about the recent unrest over racial inequality following the death of George Floyd in police custody?
Trump has firmly stood with authorities in saying he would not turn his back on the work police do to keep communities safe. That’s angered civil rights and Black Lives Matter activists. But commentators say they were unlikely to vote for him anyway and this is an election year.
What are his chances of winning the election looking like?
It’s a tough question to answer given the polls got it pretty wrong in 2016. So far Joe Biden has a lead on Donald Trump. But there’s an interesting metric that could become very important as we get towards the end of the year and that’s on the handling of the economy. On that measure, Trump leads. But with the polls getting it so very wrong last time, so it’s little surprise there’s some scepticism about what they’re saying now.
Barbara Walters interview with Donald and Melania Trump
Washington Post “Donald Trump’s misleading claims”
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