Wednesday 17 January 2018

I'm really rich, says Trump as he launches White House run

Rachael Alexander in New York

Donald Trump, the property tycoon and television star, threw himself into the Republican presidential race with a typically bullish campaign launch, during which he promised to make America great again and revealed he was worth almost $9bn.

"I am really rich," he said, promising not to be pushed around by donors or lobbyists unlike the "losers" he said who currently run the US.

It was a classic Trump moment as he set out the unashamedly populist agenda he hopes can propel him to the White House.

"All of my life, I have heard a truly successful person, a really successful person, and even a modestly successful person, cannot run for public office, just can't happen," Mr Trump said. "Yet that's the kind of mindset you need to make this country great again.

"So, ladies and gentlemen, I am officially running for president of the United States, and we are going to make our country great again."

He is the 12th high-profile Republican to enter the 2016 race, with more to come in the weeks ahead.

Mr Trump made the announcement at the Manhattan tower that bears his name, giving a rambling speech that wandered from foreign policy to US President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul to his own achievements in business.

In his well-known bombastic style, he mixed boasts about his wealth with promises to defeat effortlessly Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) and negotiate trade deals with China.

"Sadly, the American dream is dead," Mr Trump said. "But if I get elected president, I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before, and we will make America great again."

He also promised to take on Isil, bring back outsourced jobs (in part by building a wall on the Mexican border) and rekindle the American dream with the leadership that made him one of the country's richest men.

The 69-year-old launched his campaign at Trump Tower, plunging himself into an already crowded Republican field.

"Our country is in trouble," he said to cheers in the atrium of his gold-trimmed building. "We don't have victories any more."

Unlike Hillary Clinton, who has tried to play down her family's wealth and suggest she is not a paid-up member of the one per cent, Mr Trump has one simple philosophy: a president should be rich and successful.

The star of 'The Apprentice USA' said he was revealing his wealth - including more than $9bn of assets - to prove he was the sort of successful man who could provide real leadership.

But his main message centred on reducing unemployment. He said he would be the "best jobs president God ever created" and accused countries such as Mexico of dumping their problems over the American border. "They are bringing drugs, they are bringing crime," he said. "They are rapists."

He peppered his unscripted speech with steady stream of jokes - often at the expense of liberals and frequently with his own business and construction skills as the punchline.

"Nobody builds a wall better than me," he said, after promising to build the barrier on the border with Mexico.

Mr Trump promised his early work would include overturning Mr Obama's executive order allowing millions of undocumented workers to stay in the country and ditching Obamacare.

He spoke from a stage at the bottom of a gold-trimmed escalator in the basement - or atrium - of his building where the cult of Trump was on full display. It was set up beside the Trump Ice Cream Parlour (selling Trump banana splits for the reasonable price of $7.95) and the Trump gift shop (selling "You're Fired" T-shirts and books describing Mr Trump's own business acumen).

This is the not the first time he has prepared a presidential run. In 2011 he briefly excited the Republican base. Simple name recognition, his leading position as "birther in chief" as he tried to prove Mr Obama had been born in Kenya, and a no-nuance set of policies saw him lead the field before withdrawing in 2012.

This time things are tougher. He joins a field of 12 and polls put him somewhere towards the back of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. His first task will be to make sure that he makes the cut of the 10 candidates selected to take a place in televised candidate debates scheduled for the summer and autumn.

Irish Independent

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