“It’s just incredible that anyone would want to embrace this guy.” — Donald Trump (on Pat Buchanan, Presidential candidate, 1999)
In the Fall, 1999, Donald Trump, the billionaire real estate developer currently running for President, was flirting with a run for President as the Reform Party candidate. Trump had formed an exploratory committee in an effort to become the nominee instead of Pat Buchanan, a man Trump dismissed as an “anti-semite” who did not like “the blacks” and “the gays” either.
“Maybe he’ll get 4 or 5 percent of the vote and it’ll be a really staunch wacko vote.”
Trump’s sojourn into Presidential electoral politics did not last long. By February 2000, his exploration was done. The Reform Party had rejected Trump and Govenor Jesse Ventura of Minnesota’s efforts to help Trump gain the nomination. Trump departed the scene in familiar Trump fashion: he ‘dissed’ a few people on the way out the door.
“The Reform Party now includes a Klansmen, Mr. Duke, a neo-Nazi, Mr. Buchanan, and a communist, Ms. Fulani,” Trump famously uttered. The three individuals, David Duke, Pat Buchanan, and Lenora Fulani, were three of the party’s more prominent members and political players at the height of the party’s end of century rise. They were collectively “not company I wish to keep,” Trump said.
Jesse Ventura, the former wrestling star, who shocked the political world by becoming governor of Minnesota under the Reform Party banner back then, departed the party right before Trump as well dismissing it as “dysfunctional.” Those who control the party saw it differently.
Pat Choate, who took over the party after the Trump inspired purge, dismissed Trump as a “hustler” and not a “serious candidate.” He accused Trump of exploiting the party to promote his books, hotels, and himself. Ross Perot, who ran for President in 1992 and 1996 as Reform Party candidate, specifically worked to stop a Trump nomination by the party. This led to Ventura’s quick departure and the party’s demise on the national stage.
On top of all of this, when Trump expressed his interest in the party’s nomination, the party itself was imploding internally and needed stability. Ross Perot and Jesse Ventura were engaged in a power battle that seemed to have no solution. Trump emerged and immediately another third party in the U.S. was effectively a wasteland.
Washington Post writer, Gene Weingarten described the party, at the time, as one that “seems to represent” (and I mean no disrespect he notes) ”fruitcakes and methheads.” Weingarten asserted that the party could not win the election because it did not represent enough of the population. This came at a time, according to Weingarten where nearly half the eligible voters did not vote in 1996, Bill Clinton’s second run.
Trump, in his brief exploration, was not much different than he is now. He was short on specific policy ideas, and short is being kind. He was consistent on immigration stating he believed America had to take care of its own. He also boasted as he often does now over his business and negotiation skills.
“I’d make the greatest treaties that this country’s seen in a long time,” he said as it all began. He makes similar statements now.
Oprah Winfrey was his early choice as a possible running mate as his Vice President and he dismissed critics who pointed out his multiple marriages and alleged womanizing (he was single at the time, divorced for the second time). As for North Korea, in 1999, he insisted he would bomb the country unilaterally to prevent the production of a nuclear missle.
In truth though, Donald Trump then and Donald Trump now is chaos. The only thing consistent about Trump is he is prepared to say anything, and be anything politically to promote Donald Trump. He has been pro-abortion and pro-life, he has dismissed his current party as too extreme on immigration and is now extreme on immigration and is leading in his party’s polls. He is against the nation’s current limited health care expansion (The Affordable Care Act) but once said he favored universal health coverage as an entitlement.
Yet, it would be wise to go back and examine all of his statements. If he is the GOP nominee, he should be asked: what brought forth the change of positions over and over and over on each and everyone of them? If he wants the job, the interview process should be exhausting and not the circus lacking in answers of substance (this is what he presents now). We have been down this path before with a candidate who wanted to be President because he was rich and well known but completely in over his head. Those who voted for him know the damage very well. We are not insane; lets not do it again especially not for a candidate who has become, at least in part, what he denounced many years ago.