The Trump Backlash
Kurtz, Howard, Newsweek
Byline: Howard Kurtz
The Donald's free ride is over. As the 2012 race begins, time for more reality, less reality TV.
As Donald Trump tries to leverage his brand with a reality-show campaign for president, surging to the top of the 2012 GOP polls, the past is coming back to bite him. The media establishment has been treating him more as colorful sideshow than serious candidate. But now that it seems The Donald might actually run, it's time to take a closer look at the darker corners of his empire.
Take John Robbins. When the retired Army officer heard Trump, in a music-filled tent, talk of putting up the tallest building in Tampa, Fla., he wanted in--"because of the Trump name." But Robbins lost half his $150,000 down payment when the condo project went bankrupt and was "floored" to learn that Trump had merely licensed his gold-plated moniker: "I just don't see Trump fitting the role of commander in chief. Somebody has to stand up to Mr. Trump."
Hamed Hoshyarsar invested $54,000 in a condo at the Trump Ocean Resort Baja for one reason: he was a fan of The Apprentice. He lost every dime when the project was never built. "I want to throw up every time I see him," says the Los Angeles accountant. "I see all these people talking about him being president, and I would never vote for that guy."
Trump, who exudes a blustery charm, doesn't miss a beat. "What about the 50 deals that worked out great--are you going to cover that too?" he asks me. Let the record show he has built some fabulous properties--but has also filed for corporate bankruptcy four times, most recently with his casino unit. "I do play with the bankruptcy laws--they're very good for me" as a way of cutting debt, Trump says.
He says he's not responsible in lawsuits over the two failed condo projects because his partners were the actual builders--and, his attorney says, such confidential licensing agreements are standard. Besides, says Trump, the buyers are "lucky" because they would have lost more money in a tanking market had the projects been built. …