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. john

    If Trump would be part of the "close the loophole" bunch, then tours could begin again automatically.

    March 11, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  2. AK_steve

    So the GOP refuses to negotiate a balanced approach and forces the sequester. Then they step in and offer to pay for some of the cuts they're responsible for making happen.

    Trump is right though. Tours are not on the top of the agenda. So cutting them makes the most sense.

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

    The carnival barker is at it again. Keep your simply contributions to yourself. We, the American people, don't want your nonsense. You are fired, Donnie.

    March 11, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  4. Jackson

    Hey, Donald, if you *****TRULY***** want to show students that you care, use that money to give them better books and computer equipment, instead of using them as lip service in your never ending quest to belitte the government.

    March 11, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    Nick wrote:

    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.
    -------------------
    Oversight of any kind falls on the Congress, not the POTUS. Financial oversight falls upon the House Ways and Means Committee. You have a gripe with House Republicans.

    March 11, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  6. yolanda

    What a great visual.....The Trump White House. Now that is some signage that would perfectly articulate how totally disfunctional our entire government has become.
    And @Rudy NYC...lighten up a little bit. You are so busy urinating on anything not Democratic that you've lost your sense of humor. God save us from both sides of the aisle.

    March 11, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  7. bobby lewis

    Who is newt to suggest anybody pay...he has the money too.....

    March 11, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  8. Big_D

    But they can't afford a dime more in taxes?

    March 11, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  9. GRS62

    Gingrich & Trump? Remind me again who they are and how they are relevant?

    March 11, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  10. Randy, San Francisco

    Trump would be of more service to this country if he just paid his fair share of taxes instead of sheltering his money off shore Caribbean and Swiss banks.

    March 11, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  11. cc3

    How about just pay a higher tax rate on all those millions and stop trying to get it lower and lower? That would have a much wider effect.

    March 11, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  12. critical thinking

    Why all the criticism over this offer. The President should just accept the money and keep the White House open for the tours. If he doesn't it shows that all he wanted to accomplish was "Im taking my ball home and wont play" type of President that I think he is.

    March 11, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  13. scarf

    The Republicans claim they want spending cuts. Now that they have, them, they don't like them. If Trump has excess funds to pay for government activity, let him pay more in taxes.

    March 11, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  14. pflatman

    The two stooges, Newt and Donald. Boy, what great American patriots.

    March 11, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  15. Joe

    "The officers normally assigned to the tours will be reassigned to other duties at the White House." That is the proof right there that the move was not about saving money and just about making a point. If they were truly doing it to save money they would not need the officers any longer. More proof that this is all a game to the White House. They don't want to look for ways to cut spending which is desperately needed.

    March 11, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  16. Tim

    Could feed some poor people. Or pay taxes. Or support education. Or buy a Catholic church that is due to be closed because the Vat is lacking funds too. Or, my favorite, buy a rocket and become the first deep space pioneer.

    March 11, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  17. Nonsense

    If they are reassigning the officers to other duties, how is that a cost savings?

    March 11, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    yolanda wrote:

    And @Rudy NYC...lighten up a little bit. You are so busy urinating on anything not Democratic that you've lost your sense of humor. God save us from both sides of the aisle.
    ----------------
    I haven't lost my sense of humor. Check out the Bloomberg "golf" article that was "Trending" all morning.

    March 11, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  19. jnpa

    Trump will try anything to "trump" this administration!

    March 11, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    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.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Yeah, my money would be on "not technically possible" also, if only because Trump is a cheat and a tightwad when it comes to doing somehting that does not involve any return on his inve$ment.
    Doesn't The Dump owe $5million to either the President or some charity behind that whole embarrassing and unnecessary birth certificate "search"? Did he pay up on THAT? No? Well then, he hasn't changed, same loud-mouthed making promises he doesn't intend to keep in order to have the mike in front of his mouth.

    March 11, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  21. mrzntejas

    Just because Fox News, Rush, and Roger Ailes says the word Liberal in disdain a thousand times a day doesn’t mean Liberals are bad leaders, it means that the rich people of our country are tired of Liberals granting protections to the people of the United States of America because it hurts their profits.

    March 11, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  22. leitskev

    Anytime there is a threat to the ceaseless expansion of government, and all the special interest feeding and patronage enabled by that expansion, Democrats counter that threat by trying to make people suffer so we will know how much we need "them". Locally, it's always teachers, cops and firefighters who are punished first. At the federal level they have to look a little harder for visible programs, so they start with aircraft carriers, airports, and White House tours. But the idea is the same: make people suffer as much as possible so we give into their demands. Are we going to give in?

    March 11, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  23. BrightStar

    Take The Donald's money!

    March 11, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  24. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    First teapublicans accuse the President of being a socialist and dangerous to the American people and for the past four years they've urged the American people to stay away from the White House. Now, they're making a political twist, complaining that the President should cancel his golf tours and make more funds available for tours to the WH. Let's face it, the GOPT is detrimental to ever person place and thing on the face of this earth.

    March 11, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  25. neil

    I'm trying to figure how Trump will weasel his way out of it.This guy is cheap.If you look at his charitable contributions 500 dollars is a lot.I know he won't fork over 2 mil for white house tours.Another grandstand manuever by Chump.Oh well red meat for the mouth breathers.

    March 11, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
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