This White House tour brought to you by: Donald Trump
March 11th, 2013
11:11 AM ET
5 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. Robert Buchler

    Donald Trump is the man whose casino's under Trump Entertainment went bankrupt four times, causing any stockholders to lose their invested hard earned money. Why does anyone listen to this self promoting, pathelogical, liar?

    March 11, 2013 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  2. Joe

    I think things like Sending Money to the Muslim Brotherhood or buying new uniforms for millions of dollars TSA agents or giving away hundreds of millions of dollars to colleges so their sports teams can have new stadiums should be cit first. This is what Libs don't understand. There is plenty of money that can be cut without affecting so many needed or useful things. It's just the President is throwing a hissy fit and cutting the more important things.

    March 11, 2013 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  3. northerstar

    Do doubt Trump is making this offer to make the White House look foolish for canceling White Tours (for what can't really be all that big an expense). Obama's PAC is offering "one on one time with the President" in exchange for a $500,000 donation. Perhaps Obama could use some of that money to keep "the people's house" open for the people. Washington is really turning into just a bad joke.

    March 11, 2013 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  4. Russ

    The Republicans voted for the bill, that they knew would close down government buildings. Now they want Trump, "The Birther in Chief", to pick up the tab. What a joke. If they want the buildings open, make a deal with the Democrats.

    March 11, 2013 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  5. Guest

    obama spent more taxpayer money on his golfing weekend with Tiger than it would cost to keep the White House open for 1 year.

    March 11, 2013 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  6. Guest

    Just last week obama sent the muslim brotherhood in Egypt 250 million dollars in NEW aid and Syria, 60 million. That is the height of stupidity,.

    March 11, 2013 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  7. Disgusted

    Good offer, Donald. However, that won't give Obama what he wants.

    March 11, 2013 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  8. Frank T

    Trump OLD, OLD,man you ar nothing but a vindictive bitter OLD man I wouldn't take a penny from you.NADA

    March 11, 2013 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  9. GOP = nothing

    @Ancient Texan,

    If you trust Trump PERIOD, YOU have issues, not Obama. Then again your blog name implies all.

    March 11, 2013 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  10. yane

    I don't trust mr comb over

    March 11, 2013 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  11. Festivusfortherestofus

    In England a "trump" is the sound of breaking wind. No truer depiction can be found.

    March 11, 2013 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  12. Tracy

    Trump is just mouthing off as usual to get publicity knowing he won't have to pay a dime. Cheap talk!

    March 11, 2013 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  13. nintex

    Thank you, Dom Mom, and all others who truly have the big picture of what our President is trying to do to help ALL the people of our country. I get so frustrated reading all the lies and hateful things posted here, but I console myself by remembering that those are a small minority who are very bitter at their loss last November, and knowing that there are good, intelligent people who will keep correcting the lies and posting facts for anyone who will open their mind and listen. Keep up the good work – you know who you are!

    March 11, 2013 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  14. Grendel

    Laurie in Spokane:
    That is *exactly* my thought...then he would turn in into a casino...the ego has landed.

    March 11, 2013 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  15. Lonewolf

    Why does the media give this clown any coverage! He is an outright idiot looking for headlines and the media gives it to him. He is bigger than a "joke".

    March 11, 2013 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  16. don

    Trump He is a marketing and bankrupt machine. What's funnier is that he still gets published after constantly saying stupid things. However, some of the comments answer the question as to why this man still has an audience. We are becoming dumber and dumber as a nation. LOL.

    March 11, 2013 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  17. cal usa

    The real truth????

    Nixon was impeached for a lot less? You realy need to take a remedial course in recent American history. Nixon was not impeached, but it was clear that he was going to be, and with the support of a majority of his fellow Republicans. He resigned because Senator Barry Goldwater told him the truth, which has apparently evaded you. He violated his oath of office and broke the law. His own Attorney General resigned rather than follow his unlawful orders. You can try to rewrite history, but you're not going to get too far. Some of do know the facts.

    March 11, 2013 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  18. Carla

    Seems that people only want to see the negative in what Trump offered. Frankly, stopping the WH tours are a publicity stunt by the WH. Their thinking is hit them where you get the most outrage for the buck. Cuts are necessary, but, this could have been thought through more rationally by the managers. Don't think that was the exercise.

    March 11, 2013 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  19. Mike Barakat

    I have an idea, stop sending money to Egypt, Isreal, and the Syrian can save a lot of money just saying

    March 11, 2013 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  20. Brian in DC

    My little niece acts more like an adult than Obama. Your spending fraud has been exposed Obama.

    March 11, 2013 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  21. Dirty Harry

    I think the White House needs named sponsorships....just like all the major stadiums, sports domes, etc. Highest bidder can put there company logo on the White House.

    March 11, 2013 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  22. yem

    If Trump wants to be generous, let him give the money to poor neighborhood high schools. Help the kids to go to college. He is making big noise again for his yet unknown stupid agenda.

    March 11, 2013 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  23. uthor

    He sure does manage to keep himself in the "news."

    March 11, 2013 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  24. shuman

    Thank you Mr. Trump. You have more patriotism in your little finger than exists in the whole White House.

    March 11, 2013 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  25. cbr

    Donald Trump had many suggestions to make during the Presidential election. Of course, no one could compare to him as a candidate. Unfortunately, the big announcements that he had to make never saw the light of day. He had proof of this offense and that offense, he was going to have a big role in the Republican convention, etc. Now he will pay for the White House to be open to the public. Well you should get the money upfront!

    March 11, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
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