Donald Trump plays hardball

Donald Trump (right) with Chris Matthews

Photo by Mark Garvin

“Boy, do I love Wharton,” said would-be presidential candidate Donald Trump (W’68). He was greeted by a roar from the 1,200-person Wharton-friendly crowd in Irvine Auditorium, where we went to hear “The Donald” at a Nov.18 taping of the MSNBC show “Hardball with Chris Matthews. “

Matthews asked the money question right off. “Are you running for president?”

Trump answered, “I am indeed [long pause]...perhaps.”

Trump addressed his controversial tax plan that includes a 14.25 percent tax hike for those making at least $10 million. He asserted that this take-from-the-rich, give-to-the-middle-class program will eliminate the national debt.

He then assured students not to worry, as “you haven’t made your millions yet.”

Can’t argue with that.

Trump also threw some daggers at Pat Buchanan, his rival for the Reform Party Nomination, calling him an anti-Semite and a racist. “He can’t be elected,” Trump said. We wouldn’t necessarily dispute that one either.

Matthews did deliver some challenging questions. Who, he wondered, would Trump get to decorate the east wing of the White House in the absence of a first lady? Trump quipped that he could be married within 24 hours. “That’s what happens when you go to Wharton,” he said. (Roar from the crowd, again.) We need that kind of problem solving in Washington.

Matthews asked what would stop Trump from running. Trump said that he would run only if he thought he could win, adding that he is willing to spend “upwards of $100 million” campaigning.

Hey, the man who once lost millions, and twice earned them knows how to spend them too.

Originally published on December 2, 1999