LAMBRO: The trouble with Trump

Magnate shows himself to be a stranger to the truth

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Donald Trump has been saying things about himself and others lately that are untrue, suggesting that he has a tendency to make up his own reality as he goes along.

In an interview with CNN’s John King, Mr. Trump cited a CNN poll that he said showed him “statistically tied” with President Obama; that he has been a loyal Republican “for a long while”; and that the United States gets no oil from Libya, while China is Libya’s “biggest customer.”

Let’s take these one at a time.

CNN denies that it has ever conducted a head-to-head poll between Mr. Obama and Mr. Trump, though other polls showed him trailing the president by double digits.

A more recent nationwide Gallup poll found that more than six in 10 registered voters - 64 percent - said they definitely would not vote for Mr. Trump in 2012. Forty-six percent said that about Mr. Obama. A mere 7 percent said they would definitely vote for the real estate magnate versus 31 percent who said that about Mr. Obama.

Mr. King challenged Mr. Trump’s statement, but Mr. Trump stuck to his claim that CNN said he was tied with Mr. Obama, saying, “Yes, you have. … I think you’re wrong.”

“We also rechecked with our polling department and our polling director specifically,” Mr. King said on CNN. “The Trump people never got back to us and this is why. We’re positive, positive, CNN never conducted such a poll.”

Mr. Trump’s claim to have been “a very strong Republican” for “a long while” is open to substantial doubt, too. In the last decade he was a registered Democrat between 2001 to 2008, according to ace Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler.

Moreover, he did not vote in primary contests for more than two decades, according to a search of his voting record by NY1, a New York news channel. In the 2008 presidential election, Mr. Trump said he supported Barack Obama, adding that he “has a chance to go down as the greatest president.”

What does that tell you about Mr. Trump’s political judgement?

Deeper doubts are raised about his claims of party loyalty when you look at the long list of liberal Democrats Mr. Trump has supported financially - from Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada to former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who got a whopping $50,000 to bankroll his successful run for mayor of Chicago.

A majority of the candidates who benefited from Mr. Trump’s deep pockets - 54 percent of them - were Democrats, and far-left ones at that, including then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, Rep. Charles Rangel and Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York, and the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

And then there was Mr. Trump’s claim that China is Libya’s biggest oil customer and that the United States gets “no oil from Libya.”

In truth, Mr. Kessler found, the United States does get a small share of Libya’s oil - only 3 percent - but China is far from its “biggest customer.”

The Department of Energy says Libya’s customers are Italy, 28 percent; France, 15 percent; China, 11 percent; Germany and Spain, 10 percent each.

Then there were Mr. Trump’s attacks on whether Mr. Obama was born in the United States. He is claiming vindication now for elevating the issue in numerous interviews - a tactic that catapulted him into the news and drew attention to his presidential ambitions - clearly forcing Mr. Obama to produce his official birth certificate this week.

After three years of ignoring the issue, Mr. Obama signed a letter to Hawaii state officials Friday requesting a copy of his official birth certificate. It was delivered Tuesday night.

But early on, Mr. Trump said he had hired investigators digging into the “birther” issue in Hawaii and, based on their reports, was convinced that the birth certificate didn’t exist. Now that Mr. Obama has produced a copy, Mr. Trump is touting this as a big political achievement.

Mr. Trump certainly forced Mr. Obama’s hand by lifting the issue beyond the second-tier attention it has received. But it’s an issue among a relatively small segment of voters that he could have sidestepped, saying that it’s not among the top concerns on most voters’ minds.

But worse than his tendency to make things up is his off-the-cuff, sometimes bombastic comments about how he would handle major issues like the budget deficit, skyrocketing oil prices, and blaming China for all our economic ills.

On Libya, he would go in, presumably militarily, and get rid of Col. Moammar Gadhafi and seize the oil fields if the Saudis would pay us the $5 billion it would cost, plus a cut in their oil supplies. On overall oil prices, he would call up Arab OPEC leaders and tell them “you’ve had your fun, but it’s over.” He talks tough about going in and seizing oil fields, which is a frightening prospect for a country still embroiled in two wars and now Libya.

China is a hot-button issue for candidates to demagogue when they do not have a domestic economic plan to boost growth and jobs in America. China is not responsible for our weak, jobless economy, excessive tax levels and unprecedented $14.3 trillion debt. Mr. Obama’s failed anti-growth economic policies are to blame.

A shallow, sound-bite campaign that invents “facts” to fit his own reality, threatens the Arab world, pushes China around and brags how “easy” it is to fix the fiscal mess we’re in, without the hint of a well-thought-out plan, may play with some voters.

But this is not a presidential contender who has serious answers to the critical economic and fiscal issues we now face. Mr. Obama’s birth certificate will not create a single job.

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and former chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is the chief political correspondent for The Washington Times, the author of five books and a nationally syndicated columnist. His twice-weekly United Feature Syndicate column appears in newspapers across the country, including The Washington Times. He received the Warren Brookes Award For Excellence In Journalism in 1995 and in that same year was the host and co-writer of ...

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