By David Cruz
Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump let it be known that this week’s raucous and sometimes surreal press conference is what Americans can expect from a Trump presidency. The event, at which Trump detailed where almost $6 million he said he raised for veteran’s causes actually went, turned into a press brow-beating of Trumpian proportions.
“I sent people checks of a lot of money and … instead of being like ‘thank you very much Mr. Trump’ or ‘Trump did a good job’ everyone’s saying ‘Who got it, who got it?’ and you make me look very bad,” Trump admonished the gathered media. “I never received such bad publicity for doing such a good job.”
Trump read from a list of 41 organizations that received money from Trump and others. Despite his claim back in January that he had raised $6 million for veterans groups, almost $2 million of that was donated just last week. Trump said the press was “sleazy”, “dishonest” and “biased”, among other things, for asking him to prove his claims.
“Now, these are checks that have been delivered, that have been cashed, that are now being used to help the vets,” he said.
Three vets organizations with New Jersey offices told NJTV News that they had, in fact, received the donations in the amount Trump said, although two said they had been received after Trump made his $6 million claims. Some veterans who gathered outside Trump’s mid-town Manhattan event said they were offended by Trump and wanted it known that not all of them welcomed the help of a man they found hateful.
“I’m out here because as a Marine Corps officer I’m opposed to everything that Donald Trump stands for. He’s used irresponsible and hateful rhetoric for his agenda and he’s used veterans as props for the hate,” said Marine vet Jake Maier of New Jersey. “And rhetoric like that makes it even more dangerous and unsafe for our brothers and sisters in arms.”
It is a testament to Trump’s status as a unique political entity that a press conference wherein he berated journalists for nearly an hour has so dominated the news cycle. It was the first thing his presumed opponent — Hillary Clinton — had to address when she tried to get some of that free media.
With less than a week to go before the New Jersey primary, Trump is redefining the concept of the Teflon candidate. Even as he ethnically profiles the judge in the Trump University civil suit, and even as prominent New Jerseyans like former Gov. Christine Whitman beseech voters to cast their ballots elsewhere, polls show Trump virtually neck and neck with Clinton.
“Our polling has come out and the polls are doing very well, as you know,” boasted Trump. “We’re pretty much even, and in some cases ahead of Hillary, and I think we’re going to have a very, very successful number of months and I think it will all culminate in November, and we’re going to make America great again.”
The conventional wisdom among Democrats is that the Trump campaign will implode and that the candidate himself will somehow become unhinged by the kind of scrutiny that comes with running for president. But, while the race has not yet officially begun, Trump has shown that when it comes to wisdom, there’s nothing conventional about him.