It was Oliver L. North with a Brooklyn accent.
Donald Trump, the dashing lord of the New York real estate world, came to New Hampshire Thursday to talk a little politics.
America, he said, gets no respect. And our would-be leaders are too timid to demand it.
Clad in a scarlet “power” tie and flanked by a glowering bodyguard, Trump gave one of those meat-eating speeches that can leave audiences wondering how the country will survive without him in the White House.
“He reminds me of Ronald Reagan, you know, before . . . " one woman said wistfully.
Says He’s Not Running
But Trump insisted he was not running for President. He said so at the beginning of his speech, and he said so again, after questioning the intestinal fortitude of all of the people who are running for President.
“I want a tough smart cookie representing my interests,” Trump said. “I want the best people representing me, whether it’s in a deal or whether it’s for this country, because, believe me, there’s no difference. There’s not a bit of difference. And we don’t have them. We don’t have tough people. We have nice people.
“But I’m tired of nice people, already. I mean, too much. Let somebody be in there who doesn’t just smile nicely, who’s not just shaking hands. I want someone in there who knows how to negotiate, because that’s what it’s all about now. And, if the right person isn’t in office, you’re going to see a catastrophe.”
Trump’s appearance here was one of those events, fraught with anticipation, full of sturm und drang, and likely to mean nothing, that helps make a campaign season memorable.
Rumors were that Trump was restlessly looking around for a new challenge. By the age of 41, he had already made several billion dollars, owned a professional football team, operated a casino, invested money for Lee A. Iacocca, starred in Doonesbury and sidestepped Monday’s stock market crash.
Moreover, if he did not want to run for President, why accept a speaking engagement in New Hampshire during the fall of a presidential primary?
Large Crowd Awaits
When he arrived at Yoken’s Restaurant to give his speech, network cameras were waiting for him. So was a crowd of 500, more people than turned out to hear any of the three declared candidates to speak here this fall, according to the Rotary Club, which was host for the speech.
Trump’s speech roamed from the presidential race to Wall Street to the Persian Gulf to Japan. He blamed the nation’s financial crisis on a failure of will--not a failure to raise taxes or control spending, but a failure to make our allies pay us for protecting them.
“The fact is we don’t need a tax increase. We should have a tax decrease. We should have Japan and we should have Saudi Arabia and we should have all of these countries who are literally ripping us off left and right. . . . They should pay for our $200-billion deficit.
“We are a country that is losing $200 billion a year. We are supporting--we are literally supporting --Japan, which is the greatest money machine ever created, and we created it to a large extent. Let’s not kid ourselves. We’re supporting Saudi Arabia. We’re supporting Kuwait. We’re bringing in ships to Kuwait through the gulf. We’re losing our men. We’re spending billions of dollars. So what’s happening? They don’t contribute one penny of this defense.”
Describing Iran as a “horrible, horrible country” and the United States’ military responses in the Persian Gulf to date as ineffective, Trump said, “Why couldn’t we go in and take over some of their oil?” In the gulf and elsewhere, he said, the United States “can’t afford to be a whipping post.”
Digresses to Market
Then, Trump, who says he is worth $3 billion, digressed briefly to discuss his good fortune on Wall Street recently.
“So I see all this going on, and I decide to get out of the stock market. The stock market crashes. Then, I go back in. The stock market goes up. I just happen to be lucky. . . . By the way, I got out last night. OK, I didn’t want to tell you before the fact.”
In the midst of crisis, Trump said, he is underwhelmed by the candidates.
The most important credential for a candidate in this election, he said, seems to be the absence of a “horrible background.”
“When all of the reporters go and check him out, they find nothing--nothing. The guy has done nothing. So he has a great chance of getting elected.”