Trump’s failed 2000 Presidential bid

New York billionaire real estate tycoon Donald Trump made an appearance for the media atop a Beverly Hills, Calif., hotel Monday, Dec. 6, 1999. The potential Reform Party presidential candidate is in the Southern California area to address party leaders and to test the political waters. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Trump has been endlessly lambasting Mitt Romney over the past few days, in the wake of Romney’s strong speech against Trump’s 2016 Presidential campaign. Among those criticisms, and actually most loud coming from the Trump campaign and Trump himself, is Mitt Romney’s failed 2012 Presidential campaign. Although first swearing off Romney and his speech as irrelevant in his Maine primary rally speech, he then went on to explain just how irrelevant Romney was for about thirty minutes (protest too much, Mr. Trump?). One of the two biggest points that Trump made about Romney was Trump’s endorsement of Romney in 2012. Let’s talk about that for a minute.

Romney’s acceptance of Trump’s endorsement means nothing. It doesn’t mean that Romney felt Trump would one day be a great President or great candidate. It meant that he accepted Trump’s support. People (including Trump, and I really doubt Romney begged for your support) keep focusing on this to try to display the sheer hypocrisy in Romney’s attack on Trump, but are failing to see the simple point here. Giving someone money for a campaign doesn’t qualify you to be the leader of the country. Someone’s acceptance of your endorsement or campaign money isn’t a nod that you should run for President. Romney can accept that endorsement – it has no relevancy in whether or nor he believes Trump would make a good candidate. So, let’s drop that. Worst strawman argument to date.

The second main point Trump made in his scathing attack on Romney was Romney’s failed Presidential bid. Now, here’s where Trump actually becomes the hypocrite. Trump had his own failed Presidential run in 2000, and it was a disaster. Oddly, many news and media sources count this as a consideration to run for President – that’s how much of a disaster it was. FEMA almost had to be called to pick up the pieces. And let me guess, most of you don’t even have that failed Presidential run as even a blip on the radar, do you? That bad. In fact, most of it was overshadowed by the Florida hanging chads, and that awkward time that the Supreme Court had to get involved in deciding the outcome of the election. Since this horrible disaster of a Presidential bid has been all but swept under the rug, let’s revisit this time.

In the early days of October 1999, Trump announced he was laying out the groundwork to run for Presidency in 2000. During an appearance on The Larry King show, Trump discussed the possibility of starting his campaign, and named Oprah Winfrey as his potential running mate (Oprah politely declined). He felt very optimistic about his change in winning the election, citing a – and here we go – National Enquirer poll that showed him performing better than Republican George Bush, and Democrat Al Gore. Yes, folks, he cited a National Enquirer poll. You notice how, every time Trump gets stuck on a question, he turns to citing polls about how great he’s doing? Notice how the polls he chooses always shows him performing at optimal levels? Because he believes in polls like The National Enquirer.

On October 24th, 1999 Trump officially announced he was joining the Reform Party and began unofficially campaigning for the Presidency. The Reform Party, that year, qualified for matching funds of $12.4 million, due to Ross Perot’s garnering more than 5% of the vote in the 1996 elections. The Reform Party, in 2000, had a legitimate opportunity to compete with the Republican and Democratic candidate for the Presidential election. So, of course, Donald Trump enters the race. Donald Trump’s first form of campaigning was to label the leading Reform Party candidate, Pat Buchanan, as a Hitler-lover. First strike? Attack and belittle the competition. Sound familiar, guys? That’s Trump’s MO, as is switching parties every election, but that’s another story.

Let’s take a look at why Trump labeled Buchanan as a “Hitler-lover.” In a Meet the Press interview, Trump discussed Buchanan’s belief that Hitler was not initially a US threat at the start of World War II. Trump’s response is as follows:

Mr. Trump, who has never been a political candidate, clearly timed his announcement to target Mr. Buchanan, acidly denouncing him on the NBC News program ”Meet the Press” as the candidate of the ”really staunch right wacko vote.’

‘Look, he’s a Hitler lover,” Mr. Trump said, alluding to the recent debate over Mr. Buchanan’s view that in World War II Hitler initially presented no serious threat to the United States.

”I guess he’s an anti-Semite,” Mr. Trump said, raising an accusation Mr. Buchanan has repeatedly denied in his career as White House strategist and talk show polemicist. ”He doesn’t like the blacks, he doesn’t like the gays,” Mr. Trump continued. ”It’s just incredible that anybody could embrace this guy.”

So, we’re to believe that because Buchanan believed Hitler did not start off as a threat, then he’s a Hitler-lover? It seems that Trump has said some kind words about former KGB and current President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. Are we to assume that Trump is pro-Communist? I mean, that is his direct assessment of others.

Isn’t that interesting? Mr. Trump’s strategy to try to gain control of the Reform Party was to attack the leaders. To weaken the overall leadership and party – to divide and conquer, so to speak. You know why people do this? Because they’re not good enough. They want to lead, but they don’t have the strength to fight a fair fight. What do they do instead?  Attack, then throw the Party into turmoil, then take advantage of that weak spot. Does this sound familiar? Same MO as the previous run. He comes in, attacking the leadership of the Republican Party, which is essentially bringing it to its knees. Why? He can’t compete. Instead, he’ll burn it down and stomp on the ashes to get ahead.

Guys, the “establishment” Republican party is not tearing itself up. Trump is. Like he did with the Reform Party in 2000. What do you think he’ll do with this country?

And speaking of his relationship with the Republican Party. In 2000, Trump announced he was leaving the Republican Party (this would be his 2nd party switch in his lifetime – the first being in 1987, when he switched from Democrat to Republican). His reasoning?

”I really believe the Republicans are just too crazy right,” he said when he disclosed that he would register this week with the Independence Party, the New York version of the Reform Party.

So, the political climate of the Republican Party around the time of the 2000 elections was, in Trump’s own words, “too crazy right.” So, he switched to the Independence/Reform Party in order to explore a Presidential run in 2000. Think about that. Sixteen years ago, Trump denounced the Republican party as too crazy right. Anyway, back to Trumps Reform Party platform.

Mr. Trump introduced a rather progressive platform for his 2000 Presidential bid. He first associated with being rather conservative, but then changed his demeanor (surprise!) to be quite liberal. In fact, he supported and would fight for Universal Healthcare. His own words:

“I believe in universal health care. I believe in whatever it takes to make people well and better . . . . [I]t’s an entitlement to this country if we’re going to have a great country.”

Healthcare, my friends, is an entitlement. Universal healthcare would be his great fight for the 2000 Presidential campaign. Let’s think about this – universal healthcare would certainly be a mandate that one would have to opt-in for. There would be no choice. Sound familiar? Oh, right, Bill Clinton tried to push this during his Presidency.

Trump began touring, speaking with the press, meeting with Reform Party crowds, and bolstering his support. Polls continuously showed him to be a poor performer, consistently lagging in a distant 4th place to other Reform Party candidates. Trump dismissed those polls – of course – and kept plugging on. In January 2000, Trump dumped his then-girlfriend (now wife) Melonia Knauss. One of his associates stated to the New York Daily News it was to make him look like a better candidate choice for the Reform Party. Imagine that – dump a relationship to better yourself as a candidate. There is no line Trump won’t cross for himself and his brand.

But, he kept plugging along. Soon, he realized that he had alienated a large number of Reform Party members with his crude name-calling at fellow member and candidate Pat Buchanan. He held a few events, trying to win the crowd over. However, realizing he still did not have the support Buchanan had for the nomination, and fearing public humiliation of not winning a single vote at the soon-to-be-held Florida Reform Party State Convention, he cited “scheduling conflicts” when asked to appear. Not too long after, Trump’s name was taken off the New York Reform Party ballot, for failing to garner the MINIMUM 5,000 signatures required to stay on the ballot. This was the beginning of the end for Trump’s informal campaign for the Presidency.

As the foundation of the Reform party began to crumble in the early months of 2000, Trump decided, once and for all, to jump ship. He formally announced his withdrawal from the campaign on February 14th, 2000. The Reform party continued to have rifts and conflict, but eventually named Buchanan as the nominee for the Presidential campaign. Trump would have never gotten close, however, as he trailed behind at least 1 party member that was not even running. The Reform party continued to have problems and continued to deteriorate in the aftermath of the 2000 election mess, and has never really recovered. I’m sure the party looks back on the brief time Trump graced their appearance and carried their name fondly.

This hot mess of a campaign was brought to you by Donald Trump. And he’s criticizing Romney for a failed campaign? In Trump’s own words – what a loser.





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