This White House tour brought to you by: Donald Trump
March 11th, 2013
11:11 AM ET
2 years ago

This White House tour brought to you by: Donald Trump

(CNN) – Real estate titan Donald Trump said he'll cover the costs to keep the White House tours open for rest of the fiscal year, an idea proposed online last week by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

The White House announced Tuesday it was suspending the tours through September 30 as a consequence of the forced spending cuts-known in Washington as the sequester–that began taking effect March 1. The tours stopped running on Friday.

The move quickly sparked controversy, with some Republicans arguing the Obama administration was using the canceled tours as a political ploy to draw up negative reaction from the American public over the cuts.

Gingrich floated an alternative idea last week. On Twitter the former presidential candidate volunteered his fellow Republican to pick up the tab.

"Donald trump should offer to pay for the white house tours. He can afford it and it would show who cares more for American students," he wrote, referring to the hordes of kids who venture to Washington for spring break and summer vacation.

Asked Monday about the tweet on "Fox and Friends," Trump said in a phone interview that he hadn't heard anything about the suggestion.

"I think it's so nice of Newt to suggest that," the media mogul said, adding that Gingrich and his wife are members of his club in Washington. "But it sounds reasonable to me. Why not?"

After agreeing to the pitch, he asked how much it would cost.

The U.S. Secret Service told CNN Thursday that the plan will help the agency save $74,000 per week - or $2 million in the next seven months. That's how much it costs to pay 37 uniformed officers $50 an hour for 40 hours a week to secure the tour's route through the East Wing.

But that's just a fraction of the $84 million the Secret Service needs to cut from its $1.6 billion budget, according to the Office of Management and Budget. The officers normally assigned to the tours will be reassigned to other duties at the White House.

"The Secret Service, like other agencies of government is affected by the sequester," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said during his Thursday press briefing. "And the Secret Service presented options that ranged from canceling tours to potential furloughs and cuts in overtime. And in order to allow the Secret Service to best fulfill its core mission, the White House made the decision that we would unfortunately have to temporarily suspend these tours."

READ MORE: Critics to Obama: Give up golf, not W.H. tours

Asked if the White House could accept private donations to fund the tours, White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said Friday "I don't know if it's technically possible."

"My guess is that it's not," he said in the daily briefing. "The reason for that is that the sequester mandates across the board, non-strategic, indiscriminate, cuts to the budget. It allows very little, if any, flexibility."

While the White House has not commented on Trump's specific offer, it would also be highly unusual for the Obama administration to accept private contributions for a Secret Service activity.

Trump on Monday said the public White House tours of the East Wing have been a "simple" and "open" tradition for years.

"It's certainly not a lot of money. The big thing is that the country is going to lose a trillion dollars this year," he said. "Closing the White House tours is not exactly the biggest thing on the agenda."

– CNN's Adam Aigner-Treworgy and Lesa Jansen contributed to this report.


Filed under: Donald Trump • White House
soundoff (374 Responses)
  1. The REAL Truth...

    How nice. For once we get to see the Donald put his money where his mouth usually is.
    No doubt he'll get some nice tax break from his Obstructionist buddies – in excess of the amount spent – to offset the cost.

    March 11, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  2. Rudy NYC

    Thanks, but no thanks. Trump should just make a payment directly to the US Treasury to help pay down the debt. He can make a big check like the way Rand Paul did.

    March 11, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Put your money where your mouth is Trump. You're a baller. You can afford it right?

    March 11, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  4. ja

    I will pay for trump to stay out of the media the rest of his life

    March 11, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  5. Fair is Fair

    I'll put up $50 at 5-1 odds that Obama doesn't accept the offer. It's much more politically palatable for him to whine.

    March 11, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  6. Name

    I knew there had to be a reason. ..third paragraph of article.

    March 11, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  7. name

    I think the WH tour cut is a legitimate one. Government has not seen any cutbacks over the past 4 years yet American families have been living on tighter and tighter budgets. Its time for Washington to grow up and start acting like a responsible adult. You can't spend more than you make; a principle the American family knows too well. Washington could learn alot from the American family.

    March 11, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  8. MaryM

    Donald, no , just pay the US Treasury. and shut up

    March 11, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  9. BK

    The GOP gets what it wants, then whines about it.

    If you are too short sighted to see what the consequences of your votes (or obstructionism in their case) will be, then you don't need to be in congress at all.

    March 11, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  10. Name

    Very good of him.

    March 11, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  11. lottie

    another excuse to get his face before the public. No Thanks Donald. Try using your money to help feed the poor or put it toward helping people find work. We can live without the tours people cant live without food or a job.

    March 11, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  12. Jack

    Giving tours of the whitehouse is not the core mission of the secret service like the article said, so I think it's a smart cut to make. Times are tough and these guys have more important things to be doing.

    March 11, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  13. Sniffit

    "I'll put up $50 at 5-1 odds that Obama doesn't accept the offer. It's much more politically palatable for him to whine."

    Said without a shred of any apparent awareness of the irony that you are, in fact, whining.

    Dubya closed the tours for 2 years and you people didn't fling turds about it then. Here, it's quite clear that the indiscriminate cutting from the sequester required something be done, and this is of the least damaging things to cut. Grow up.

    March 11, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  14. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair

    I'll put up $50 at 5-1 odds that Obama doesn't accept the offer. It's much more politically palatable for him to whine.
    -------------
    Try reading the article. They've already pretty much turned it down on legal grounds. It just doesn't look right for a private citizen to be paying the Secret Service's salaries.

    March 11, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  15. Yanni

    It is the people white House not for sale. Nice try though

    March 11, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  16. robert jay

    Can't get Repubs to act reponsibly on matters needing attention but when they can show boat they will trample people to do it!

    March 11, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  17. The REAL Truth...

    @name – You can't spend more than you make; a principle the American family knows too well. Washington could learn alot from the American family.
    ---------------------------–
    Sure you can.. the US – and many other countries have been doing just that since 1790 (some TWO HUNDRED+ years) !!!
    And we're ALL still here and afloat.
    The Federal Govt. does NOT run like an American household. Trouble is too many folks don't know that and refuse to educate themselves on the differences. If your household is in economic trouble, you can't fund a stimulus to jump start it.. you have to get a job.
    Sure, balanced budget sounds great, but if a misnomer. Even Texas which HAS a constitutionally mandated balanced budget has almost $300 BILLION of debt...

    March 11, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  18. Curt

    How about Trump just repay back everybody that he owed money to when he went bankrupt several times. That way all the businesses that lost money because he didn't pay them could expand. Think that would help the economy.

    March 11, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  19. Nick

    While this is doubtless another Trump promotional effort, everyone needs to realize that the Inspector Generals that monitor Federal agencies previously identified $67 billion in waste, fraud and abuse. Since President Obama took office, money-saving ideas sat on a shelf – in 2009 there were 10,894 recommended reductions; today there are 16,900 reductions, worth an additional $30 billion. Maybe if Obama stopped campaigning and actually read some of these reports and enacted the recommendations we would not have needed a sequester.

    March 11, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  20. DOG1

    Here's a thought, why doesn't trump ( as well as the others like him) just PAY THE TAXES they should be paying instead of hiding money offshore and utilizing juicy tax loopholes? At least doing that instead of shooting his mouth might at least help a little bit to fix the problem(s).

    March 11, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    from the article:

    Asked if the White House could accept private donations to fund the tours, White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said Friday "I don't know if it's technically possible."
    --------------------------–
    Naturally, Republicans and conservatives see nothing, absolutely nothing wrong with it.

    March 11, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  22. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Thanks Don, now shut your yap for once!

    March 11, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  23. Kweso

    Let him start by picking-up the tab of the cut to the Defense Department. That's where money is needed the most to protect the nation and defend the freedoms he enjoys so much.

    March 11, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  24. Ken in MD

    This is where he wants to help with government funding? This man keeps trying to remain relevent, and keeps failing.

    March 11, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  25. nytw

    Trump and Gingrich need to leave us alone.

    March 11, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15