As most of you know, I declared my intention to run for President of the United States back in May. It wasn’t for 2016. The field is already too crowded for that. My run is for 2020. My idea was that by declaring now, I could raise a whole lot of money on the backs of all the people running for 2016–many of whom would mistakenly think I was running for 2016—and then, with that over and whoever won taking office, begin my glad-handing tour around the country the very next day for the 2020 election with this huge stockpile of money already in the till. Thus, with this as a slingshot, I’d be so far ahead in the fundraising scheme of things I’d be an absolute shoo-in for 2020.
Observe my slogan. It’s “FORWARD WITH DAN.”
Also, I am sure by now you have noticed all the red-white-and-blue metal boxes on street corners around the country requesting donations be made to my campaign by putting cash through the little slot in the front. Putting boxes out on street corners like that worked for me when I started with this free newspaper. It’s working again now. As I’ve always said, advising those who look up to me, always do what you know.
I’ve also, in a peripheral sort of way, become involved in the Republican free-for-all now going on for 2016. Several of the candidates have called me, seeking advice. I’m sure they would not have called if they didn’t think I had this brilliant idea for 2020. For instance, I got a call from former New York Governor George Pataki, or someone who said he was George Pataki, asking what I thought of him throwing his hat in the ring for 2016.
Though maybe he wasn’t George Pataki. Mr. Pataki and I famously stood together in a crowd on a highway overpass during a very dramatic situation in Westhampton some years ago. The Great Sunrise Fire that year, the biggest forest fire in all the recorded history of the East End, was being bravely fought in the Pine Barrens by firefighters behind us and north of that superhighway. Heavy smoke was blotting out the sun. We were standing on that overpass crossing the Sunrise Highway, me as a reporter for this magazine, and he as Governor, just beginning a press conference where he would announce that the fire would be stopped at the Sunrise Highway. They had hosed it down. The fire couldn’t cross a six-lane firebreak like that. As we stood there with him talking, the great flames just 500 yards behind us suddenly did exactly what he said they could not do, which was leap across the six lanes of that highway and, with the crowd looking on, gasping in horror, to now head through the woods for Westhampton Beach. But this Pataki didn’t remember when I mentioned it on the phone. It was quite a while ago after all. But then maybe it wasn’t him.
(Just so you shouldn’t worry, the fire petered out before the onslaught of water put up by the brave firemen, before it could make it to Westhampton Beach).
Anyway, in this phone call, Pataki asked me if I thought he should run and I told him the truth, which was that he was too boring to win the Presidency, something that Mr. Romney proved in the last election. As a result, Mr. Pataki, after this phone call, decided to call off his run.
I also received calls from people saying they were Scott Walker and Marco Rubio, asking for my advice and support. One thought we might merge the campaigns. I should run as his Vice President. I thought it not a good idea.
One person who did not call me for advice, however, was Donald Trump. I know Donald. I met him in his office one time and, on another occasion, spoke with him at the Plaza when he was the big poobah at that place. He even sent me a note praising my new book, In the Hamptons. It reads “Rattiner has done a terrific job with Dan’s Papers, and his book, In the Hamptons, is as colorful and engrossing as you would expect. He describes the coming of age of the Hamptons with insight and affection.” So I am surprised that he didn’t call.
I think, right now, that Donald Trump is about to make a huge mistake. Until now, he has said it like it is (just like I did for George Pataki), and he has attracted tremendous support for doing this, particularly from the far-right-wing nutcase group who have never heard any person running for office insulting people left and right like this just because, dammit, that’s the truth. People like the truth. Especially where you wouldn’t say what you just said in polite society.
But Donald Trump is now moving into moderation mode, toning down his rhetoric and being more like a Presidential candidate. Mistake. Right now, with his telling it like it is, he is chugging along with about 24% support from the nutcase wing of that party (which translates to 12% of the electorate.) So his mistake is, if he persists with this newer game plan, he will lose all of his support. They will see he is just like everybody else. And he will not gain any new support because in reality he has not got even the slightest amount of experience running for public office, not even dogcatcher, much less President. He will be “over,” as we say on the campaign trail, unless he sees the error of his ways. (Or, hee-hee, the way of his errors.)
Frankly, I don’t think there is anything wrong with Donald Trump, except that he got very rich. Few people have done what he’s done. And he has surrounded himself, as many rich people do, with lesser folks who hang on his every word and do whatever he tells them and agree with everything he says. In these circumstances, and I have seen this before here in the Hamptons, he can have no idea when he is doing something very outrageous because, though outrageous, and though true, nobody tells him. So, for example, if he wants a particular kind of coconut from Madagascar and instead they bring him a coconut from the mainland of Africa that faces Madagascar, he sends them scurrying back there on the private plane with it and they go “yes sir, yes sir, amazing you spotted that, sir.”
Keep going with what works for you, I would tell him. That’s why you got the 24%; the 24% of the Republican Party that would love to see someone like him come into the Oval Office and break all the china. And also China. And Ethiopia, if they got uppity.
Once he gets a little frightened and now sees he just might really have to be the President of the United States, it’s important to not go around saying you’re just like anybody else, that you put your pants on in the morning one leg at a time, that you really didn’t mean all this, and you really love everybody and you’ll prove it by going out there and kissing some babies. You’ll lose when you do that.
That’s what I’d tell him.
Actually, I’m just sitting here by the phone, waiting for his call.