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. tina

    Is his show back on? Rating must be low. Just trying to get back in the news.

    March 11, 2013 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Gingrich and Trump......the future of the republican party.

    March 11, 2013 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  3. Thomas

    Why not put Donald Trump's hair on display at the Smithsonian ?

    March 11, 2013 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  4. philip

    Trump is a pig. He is a crook from the get go. He has manipulated the system and should be in jail. He is a LIAR!

    March 11, 2013 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  5. gdaym8

    " You're Fired!"

    March 11, 2013 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  6. Antenna Dr

    Here's a fun fact: Mr. Obama takes on average three weeks of vacation each year, although spread out which seems like a lot of vacations. Mr. Bush on the other hand averaged nine weeks. Stop bellyaching and grow-up!

    March 11, 2013 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  7. gia

    'across the board, non-strategic, indiscriminate, cuts to the budget.' that is the key phrase. if they let trump do it, will they let others fund the pentagon?

    March 11, 2013 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  8. Demacranky

    Wouldn't you know Trump would get his 2 cents in. Isn't anyone else sick and tired of listening to this gasblower give his opinion on.......EVERYTHING

    March 11, 2013 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  9. zanny

    Poor Donald Trump – is he not getting enough publicity from his apprentice show!!!!!!!!!! He is one Republican that keeps on giving for the benefit of the Democrats. He is such a fool!!!!Hu!mberto you are talking about Bush who spent 1/3 of his Presidency on vacation. both physically and mentally!!!

    March 11, 2013 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  10. Demacranky

    Did he say 2 million dollars certinaly isn't a lot of money. You are a disturbing form of life.

    March 11, 2013 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  11. Mister

    I have an idea. Why doesn't this blowhole use that money to pay back his bankruptcy debts?

    March 11, 2013 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  12. Peter

    Trump never passes up an opportunity for publicity for himself.

    March 11, 2013 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  13. Peter

    Ancient Texan wrote: "Meterman- I'd trust Trumps's word before I would trust Obama's."

    Is that so? So you think Obama's birth certificate is a fake?

    March 11, 2013 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  14. ncmyk

    dsangiovanni said "$50 an hour ? They should keep that tour closed for ever !!"

    are YOU willing to take a bullet for less???

    March 11, 2013 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  15. RomneyWho

    This guy is an embarrassment! :(

    March 11, 2013 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  16. DB

    Why not cut Michele Obama's 100+ person staff by 10% and use the money to let Americans see the American's house. Obama is using this as another political barganing chip forgetting that he is only an 8 year squatter in the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue address. The house does not belong to him, it belongs to every American in the USA! How dare him use it in such a politically disgusting way. If I had any respect for the man this for sure has stopped that.

    March 11, 2013 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  17. Doc Michaels

    TO BILL (below) who said "So first the Republicans were upset because Obama was "Spending" too much and now they upset because Obama reduced spending...WTH! There is no pleasing the Republicans!"

    I'm hoping this was just an attempt to be cute. Otherwise, your comments show how ignorant and stupid you are. The Republicans are upset with Obama's spending but cutting the White House tours to save a measly $74K a week isn't what we had in mind. It's just a ploy to penalize the families visiting Washington so he can blame the Republicans for them not being able to see the White House. Furthermore, 1 round of golf for Obama costs more than an entire week's worth of White House tours but somehow that didn't make the "cut".

    March 11, 2013 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  18. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Lynda/Minnesota:

    You were looking for CNN's response to your post? They deleted Wake up People's original post!
    I had to laugh albeit sardonically.
    You see Lynda there is no money to be made in everybody getting along and the dissemination of the truth. We're allowed on here for a semblance of 'fair and balanced'. But ultimately the real money is in crappy stories that mean nothing about someone who wishes he were something but isn't and has to depend on making promises that everyone knows he does not intend to keep in order to remain relevant.
    Click – Read – Post – Moderate – Advertisement....
    It was never about us.
    So sad. Too bad.

    March 11, 2013 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  19. mjd

    Trump is such an egomaniac and a boob i'd take him up on it. he'll quickly back down from his offer as soon as he realizes how much it will cost him! two wars,two tax cuts, medicare D, and the great recession all CHARGED to the next generation by republicans caused this fiscal mess. HYPOCRITES one and all!

    March 11, 2013 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  20. billcody

    The Republicans want spending cut. Obama cuts spending. The Republicans complain.
    George W Bush spent every weekend for the first 8 months of his Presidency at Crawford and the Republicans don't utter a peep. Obama takes 1-2 vacations a year in Hawaii and the Republicans burst a blood vessel. Get over it.

    March 11, 2013 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  21. Mack

    Donald Trump and Rand Paul need to take the goggles off when they go into the tanning booths; you can tell by the "white around their eyes." :-)

    March 11, 2013 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  22. Chipster

    Do Republicans want to make the tough choices or not? White House tours are NOT a critical service. When spending must be cut, it's common sense to begin with services that are not critical. The $4 million per year spent to provide White House tours should be spent to ensure that our veterans receive brain trauma, PSTD, and life-saving treatment. I'll gladly view the White House from outside the gate if it means that tour funds can be used ensure that our seniors receive the Social Security and Medicare Services that they PAID FOR with decades of paycheck contributions! How about cutting Congressional staff members? And ridiculously large Congressional retirement and health benefits should not be earned with only 6 years of service when our seniors must work for decades to receive far less in benefits. Services will be cut; White House tours is exactly the kind of cuts that need to be made first.

    March 11, 2013 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  23. Richard Long

    "Make the Sequester look as painful as possible"
    - Release thousands of illegal immigrants
    - Limit ammunition to our armed forces
    - Disrupt National Park operations
    - Close White House Tours

    Riddle me this...
    Q: And Congress and their staff got raises before the Sequester?
    Q: How much does a flight on Air Force one cost?
    Q: Secret Service protection changed from 10 years after your term to lifetime protection?

    barrack – a true man of the people

    March 11, 2013 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  24. Sylvia

    You just can't admit what a total loser Obama is. He doesn't give a rap about the children or anybody eksre, including you. He deliberately goes out to hurt and upset people so he can blame it on his opposition . Open your eyes! You just caent stand trump and you'd rather stop ,him from doing something to spare the kids this disappointment.

    March 11, 2013 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
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