Trump: An Amer­i­can suc­cess story

Lesotho Times - - International -

WASH­ING­TON — “Self-made man” or born into bil­lions? Suc­cess­ful en­tre­pre­neur or se­rial bank­rupt?

US bil­lion­aire Don­ald Trump, be­fore set­ting his sights on the White House, built an em­pire of real es­tate – with some colos­sal flops along the way.

With lux­ury prop­er­ties around the world – Trump Tow­ers in Man­hat­tan and Mum­bai, Trump ho­tels in Mi­ami and Chicago, Trump golf cour­ses from Los An­ge­les to Scot­land – the fron­trun­ner for the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion made a name as a sym­bol of busi­ness suc­cess.

And now his cam­paign is turn­ing that into a for­mi­da­ble pitch for voter sup­port.

In Repub­li­can de­bates or in front of TV cam­eras, Trump, 69, never hes­i­tates to of­fer him­self as the in­car­na­tion of the Amer­i­can Dream, the one can­di­date ca­pa­ble of “Mak­ing Amer­ica Great Again”, as his cam­paign slo­gan runs.

“Don­ald J Trump is the very def­i­ni­tion of the Amer­i­can suc­cess story,” touts the web­site of his busi­ness group, The Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion, a closely-held com­pany where two of Trump’s sons and a daugh­ter work.

Riches to richer

But his is no rags-to-riches tale. His Father Fred Trump, a de­scen­dent of Ger­man im­mi­grants, had al­ready amassed a for­tune as a real es­tate de­vel­oper in New York’s Queens bor­ough, spe­cial­is­ing in apart­ment build­ings for the middle class.

“He’s made a much larger suc­cess than his father, but self-made, no,” said Gwenda Blair, au­thor of “The Trumps: Three Gen­er­a­tions of Builders and a Pres­i­den­tial Can­di­date.”

“He started out with quite a lot, and used his father’s fi­nan­cial base and his political con­nec­tions.”

Trump him­self con­cedes he re­ceived what he called a “small” mil­lion-dol­lar loan from his father to launch his own projects. But he tar­geted a dif­fer­ent clien­tele, the cream of New York’s wealthy in the flashy 1980s.

“He saw that some peo­ple, rather than hide how much money they had, wanted to ad­ver­tise it just like he does – peo­ple who wanted the world to know that their apart­ments were very ex­pen­sive,” Blair said.

Michael Lind, au­thor of “Land of Prom­ise: an Eco­nomic His­tory of The United States”, said Trump knew how to tar­get the nou­veau riche class, “be­cause he has the same tastes.”

“He’s what we call a booster, some­one who can boost the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of a city or a state.”

Bank­rupt­cies

Still, Don­ald Trump’s ac­cu­mu­la­tion of a $4.5 bil­lion ( M75.3 bil­lion) for­tune didn’t come with­out bumps and bruises. Four times be­tween 1991 and 2009 his casino and ho­tel projects on the East Coast fell into bank­ruptcy.

For Trump, that was nor­mal busi­ness for an en­tre­pre­neur, and he fought hard with cred­i­tors in bank­ruptcy re­or­gan­i­sa­tion to keep a stake in the prop­er­ties, which all bore his name.

“I have used the laws of this coun­try just like the great­est peo­ple you read about ev­ery day,” he says in his de­fence – adding that he per­son­ally has never gone bank­rupt.

The first to fail, the Trump Taj Ma­hal in the beach­side gam­bling city of At­lantic City, south of New York, threat­ened Trump’s own for­tune.

To cover some of the casino’s debts, he had to sell off his yacht and pri­vate jet, and half of his shares.

The busi­ness flops were not nec­es­sar­ily due to poor man­age­ment.

“There were ma­jor upheavals, lots of ad­di­tional com­pe­ti­tion, acts of god in terms of ma­jor storms that im­pacted the traf­fic,” Ed­ward We­is­fel­ner, who worked for cred­i­tors fight­ing Trump, told AFP.

We­is­fel­ner said Trump was a tough ne­go­tia­tor who bar­gained very ef­fec­tively to pro­tect his in­ter­ests.

“The cred­i­tors were up­set, but they were still see­ing a lot of com­mer­cial value in his name and his abil­ity to draw cus­tomers to a casino,” he said. “Tak­ing his name off all the sig­nage and nap­kins would have been a phe­nom­e­nal cost.”

Ul­ti­mately all of the com­pa­nies sur­vived, with Trump re­tain­ing some in­ter­est.

And now the prop­erty mag­nate is turn­ing those ex­pe­ri­ences into a rea­son vot­ers should sup­port him to be­come pres­i­dent of the United States.

“This coun­try right now has $19tn in debt and they need some­body like me to straighten out that mess,” Trump de­clared in Au­gust, as his cam­paign for the White House nom­i­na­tion hit full speed.

— AFP

US Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump speaks on Satur­day dur­ing a cam­paign rally in the Iowa town of Ot­tumwa.

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