Donald Trump, the New York billionaire real estate mogul and one-time Republican presidential wannabe, continued his slide into a national punch-line on Wednesday when his alleged “October surprise” concerning President Barack Obama proved much ado about nothing.
“The Donald” had built anticipation of his lunchtime announcement, promising that what he had to say about the president could alter the race between Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney.
Not so much.
Trump’s announcement was nothing more than a pledge of $5 million on his part to a charity of Obama’s choice, provided the president makes public his college applications and transcripts and releases his passport history.
It wasn’t exactly the game-changing bombshell Trump had promised.
Trump released a video via Twitter at noon to much ballyhoo, and his online followers grew by the hundreds in the moments before the video was released.
“I have a deal for the president,” he said. “If Barack Obama opens up and gives his college records and applications, and passport application and records, I will give to a charity of his choice, a check immediately for $5 million.”
Trump, whose knack for self-promotion and showmanship have landed him a reality-television show, has needled the president in the past, calling him the “the worst president ever” and briefly threatening to run against him.
Trump was among the first from the right-wing fringe to give life to the “birther” movement that suggested that Obama was actually born in Kenya and thus ineligible to be president of the United States.
The theory has been thoroughly debunked, but Trump and others continue to adhere to that mantra. Trump took credit last year when Obama was forced to release his birth certificate, laying to rest a long-simmering rumor that the president was not born in the United States.
“I’m very honored to have got him to release his long-form birth certificate, or whatever it may be,” Trump said in the video.
Since the release of the birth certificate in April 2011, Trump has called on the president to release other personal documents, including his college transcripts.
“President Obama is the least transparent president in the history of this country,” Trump said. “We know very little about this president.”
When asked about Trump’s comments, Obama campaign chief David Plouffe told reporters: “Direct your questions to Boston [Mitt Romney’s campaign headquarters], he’s Romney’s biggest supporter.”