Twitter wasn’t around, and unfortunately neither was my bulky digital camera in 2005 when I had my first and still only media rendezvous with Donald Trump.
In a weird way, it’s kind of like your first trip to see Santa at the mall — something you’ll always remember. However, this happened before the smartphone and social media era. Also, I outsmarted myself by not realizing how important it is to be ready to record any moment. This from someone who has spent a career in the media world.
I was covering the groundbreaking of Trump’s planned golf-course residential development on Los Angeles’ Palos Verdes Peninsula. The California-based B2B newsletter I was working for did not publish photos, so I reasoned that there was no need to lug my camera along. But history can happen at any time, especially considering that this was Trump’s first foray into West Coast development.
But — and I’m having a bit of fun with Trump now — the real history was when he put on a construction hard hat over that famous hair when he did the shovel bit with the local politicians, who know a good photo op and tax pipeline when they see one. Promise.
Trump is a businessman, and there was plenty of hard info coming out of the session, too. The golf course (which previously was known as Ocean Trails) alone required a substantial investment. In earthquake-prone Southern California, this course was a particular risk. Trump spent a reported $61 million to retrofit the 18th hole, which had been damaged from previous rains. “If there’s ever an earthquake in Southern California, this is where I want to be standing,” he said at the conference. Subtle? Nah.
For all his bluster, Trump responded professionally to my press conference question. “Golf is still a relatively small part of my business,” Trump told me. Even the L.A.-area course was more about real estate, with home prices then starting at $5 million. But he bought the development out of receivership in 2002, per my article in Crittenden Golf Business and Real Estate. So the upside potential was enormous.
So now Trump is talking of another presidential bid, and he reportedly has scrapped plans to build homes at the course. But it didn’t stop him from big talk and big plans — or big hair — in 2005. So it’ll again be fun, Trump-style, to see what happens with him now.
— What’s your take on Donald Trump and his plans to run for president in 2016? Leave a comment below.