This White House tour brought to you by: Donald Trump
March 11th, 2013
11:11 AM ET
1 year 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. JDinHouston

    The article failed to mention that the only requirement made was that the building had to be renamed Trump House.

    March 11, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  2. josh44

    IS THAT A JOKE–JUST LIKE MR. TRUMP! HE'S A TOTAL JOKE AND WHY WOULD ANYONE PUBLISH HIS COMMENTS?

    March 11, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  3. Stephen in VA

    Closing the White House tours isn't the biggest thing on our agenda, but neither is leaving them open. Everybody wants the government to trim the fat unless it's the fat they want to keep. Meanwhile, everybody's hung up on the fact that the President makes deals over golf, which is the same thing Bush did, but it was okay back then because–what, he was a Texan? He was a Republican? What's so different?

    March 11, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  4. Beatlegal09

    Pete: Just because someone is Republican or against this president's ridiculous decisions doesn't make him racist. Got anything better than that? Seems to me that racism is alive and well because of the LEFT!

    March 11, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  5. The Real Tom Paine

    -Obama = worst president ever

    Just accept it liberals, Obama is a mess....
    *************
    Sorry, accepting fantasies from the insane and inane is never a good idea. Still can't come to grips with the fact that your bunch created to conditions, eh?

    March 11, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  6. ted

    He will use that alleged generosity to get into the WH to look for Obama's birth certificate. Sorry Trumpy no dice

    March 11, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  7. eqgold

    I know, lets get a bunch of the "Well regulated Militia" gun nuts to guard the WH and run the tours! Offer them no pay, but they get to look important.

    March 11, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain: We don't have a spending problem; we have a Republican problem

    Trumpster in regard to $2 million: ""It's certainly not a lot of money."

    I'd be happy to take it off your hands, Donnie ...

    March 11, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  9. Nicholas

    Who is paying for all the debt? Obama? If we cant have white house tours? then how can we pay for health care for everyone?

    March 11, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  10. ThinkAgain: We don't have a spending problem; we have a Republican problem

    Gingrich lecturing others about how to "help students" – from the guy who thought low-income kids should work as janitors? Because he thinks that just because you are poor you are lazy? And that student don't already have full-time jobs – TO LEARN?!?

    What a bunch of yahoos these Repubs are ...

    March 11, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  11. jane

    Of all the stupid, arrogant suggestions Trump has blabbed, this is one of the lowest! Who wants a
    White House tour on his dime?!!!

    March 11, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  12. z2cents

    First, let trump pay back taxpayers for the money he lost during his bankruptcy..

    March 11, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  13. Dr Matrix

    Trump just needs attention. His dumba** show is back on the air. Any publicity is good publicity. I wonder why he doesn't have Sarah Palin on, that would generate unlimited publicity, mainly from late night talk show jokes.

    March 11, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  14. cbwade

    Maybe if they weren't paying 37 secret sevice agents $50 an hour they would have funds to keep the tours going.

    March 11, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  15. PJ

    Donald......go cut your hair and stop being a media pest.

    March 11, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  16. t

    ..rather than THAT PALTRY amount......Trump should give ALL HIS FAKE HAIR MONEY to the Salvation Army. Then, those bell ringers in December will have heated booths, and drive around in Lincolns............

    March 11, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    @the REAL truth..

    Totally agree – Nixon was impeached for much less. There are definitely grounds to impeach here – on multiple levels.
    -----------------
    Seriously? You've got to be joking. It's gonna look like really weird for a Congress to attempt to impeach a POTUS for signing a bill into law after that same Congress voted on it, passed it, and then sent it to him for his signature. But, hey man. I understand that's the sort of weird science that can occur in right wing world.

    March 11, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  18. Obahtr

    I agree with Beatlegal09, just because your a Rep. and don't like Obama doesn't make you a racist, they don't like Biden either!

    March 11, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  19. The Real Tom Paine

    As I recall, Gingrich was born in a military hospital, raised on an army salary, went to college on a scholarship and financial aid that was courtesy of the government, used deferrement to avoid service while in graduate school....anyone see a pattern here? Trump owes his fortune to his grandfather, who started out as a slum lord. These 2 are parasites, so why does anyone listen to them? Because they tell the weak-minded what they want to hear.

    March 11, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  20. President Obama For Sale: $500,000 or Best Offer (CASH preferred)

    Maybe I can just have a few meeings with my rich supporters and donate a few bucks to help keep the Whitehouse open? I'll be rolling in dough in no time with all my rich Hollywood supporters. Pretty soon I'll be able to pay for all my golf outings too!

    March 11, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  21. tuscany590

    Jane: The same people who are living off the huge amount of taxes he probably pays..Didn't hear anyone from Hollywood offering..

    March 11, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  22. freedom

    @Moose muffin

    Totally agree – Nixon was impeached for much less – there are grounds for impeachment here – on many levels.

    March 11, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  23. Stephen in VA

    New business: Trump Tours. Along with the tours you'll be offered some nice Trump Vodka–oh, no, wait, that went bankrupt. But at least you can fly to your tour on Trump Air–no, no, that went under too.

    So because Trump Knows Real Estate, he's an expert at everything else, right?

    Over the years, Republican and Arrogant have become way too synonymous.

    March 11, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  24. tuscany590

    The people are reassigned, thus no loss of pay or savings to the people. The only thing this does is make the public "feel the pain". This man is an incompetent fraud..

    March 11, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  25. don in albuquerque

    Donald Trump, OMG! Americas favorite pimple wants scratched again.

    March 11, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
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