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. PushingBack

    So like most that claim they are fiscally conservative, Trump would rather keep spending than allow the cut in services. Of course, it's all ego that's making him do this too. Hey Trump, I have an idea...why don't you just pay your fair share of tax to begin with??

    March 11, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  2. CJ

    Sure. Trump has only screwed contractors building his buildings out of one or two hundred million over his lifetime. What's a couple million back for more publicity for his brand name. And I highly doubt we'll see him cough anything up.

    March 11, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  3. Namejanek

    Obama closes the people house to the people. Just for this he should be out.

    March 11, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  4. cribbooky

    Why are liberals comfortable with conservatives picking up the tab for White House tours when it is done via government proxies, but when a conservative offers to do it out of pocket, then it causes all of this anxiety? My guess is that it makes it harder to pretend that gratitude is due for the sacrifice when there is no proxy. Conservatives have mostly been footing the bill all along. You're welcome.

    March 11, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    Guest

    obama's golf weekend with Tiger costs were more than 1 yr of keeping the White House open.
    ---------------------–
    The Romney campaign's "excellent adventure" overseas cost far more than a round of golf with Tiger Woods.

    March 11, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  6. shelmus

    whats in it for d/t??? he doesnt do anything out of the kindness of his heart.....

    March 11, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  7. Guest

    obama's one weekend golf trip with Tiger costs more than keeping the White House open for 1 year.

    March 11, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  8. Guest

    Just last week obama sent 250 million dollars in new aid to the muslim brotherhood in Egypt and 60 million to Syria. How's that for wasting our tax dollars. obama is working against our country.

    March 11, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  9. TomGI

    His publicity stunt for March.

    March 11, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  10. ToldUso

    Of course he'll do it, it's the only way Trump is going to get into the White House.

    March 11, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  11. BCW

    Can I privately fund the CIA or Pentagon, too? I can save them from the stupid Sequester. Then I can have my daily de-briefing from the agencies and military branches just like the POTUS.

    See, Money $$$$, A lot of Money $$$$$$$ can buy you the US government. I can buy a few senates or house representatives too. Please send me the current US government catalogue with the updatged price tags! Does US government take VISA or Master card? $$$

    March 11, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  12. gladiatorgrl

    Then he'll file bankruptcy again and stiff everyone on the bill – of course cause he's wealthy he won't skip a beat

    March 11, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  13. laughingstock

    Funny how Republicans are willing to offer money to fund white house tours, but are unwilling to offer that same amount of money in the form of taxes

    March 11, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  14. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @Guest

    And how much did GWB and the GOP send to Iraq and Afghanistan??? $5.5 Trillion and counting.

    March 11, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  15. TomGI

    That hairdo is heinous.

    March 11, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  16. ellid

    @Namejanek – please explain how obeying the law of the land (that is, the sequester Congress voted into law) qualifies as "high crimes and misdemeanors." I am most interested to hear of this new legal theory.

    Thank you.

    March 11, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  17. Purplewidow

    Some funny comments like the sandy hook NRA donation.. So the NRA should take sole responsibility for a mentally disabled boy who stole a gun and went on a rampage? The NRA should claim responsibility for someone else's actions? Where is the accountability today.. Why all the finger pointing at guns when the mental health system or lack of one is the root of the cause. Not good treatment for even millionaires. As this child's parents were millionaires. This sequester was obama's idea he helped chose what agencies were being cut and by how much. Then he used that as a bargaining chip to force the GOP to raise taxes which don't even amount to 5% of the debt.. The GOP is right in the fact that we need to worry more about decreasing spending vs taxing people more. Who in there right mind works harder and harder and has no accountability for how they spend their money? Just work harder to spend money on things that have no value? For what? That is what Obama is doing. Just like the 6 trillion he spent with zero sustainability.. Makes zero sense

    March 11, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  18. Fair is Fair

    Rudy NYC

    Guest

    obama's golf weekend with Tiger costs were more than 1 yr of keeping the White House open.
    -------–
    The Romney campaign's "excellent adventure" overseas cost far more than a round of golf with Tiger Woods.
    -------–
    The Romney campaign's "excellent advanture" was paid for by the Romney campaign. Obama's golf weekend with Tiger Woods was paid for by the taxpayers. Savvy?

    March 11, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  19. Phaerisee

    He would be a great choice for a running mate if Rand Paul runs in 2016

    March 11, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  20. Fair is Fair

    Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @Guest

    And how much did GWB and the GOP send to Iraq and Afghanistan??? $5.5 Trillion and counting.
    -----–
    You make up a number like that, you should cite your sources. And those sources are.......??

    March 11, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  21. Ordinary Average American

    Why doesn't the Donald use his money for something useful? He's all about publicity and promoting his own self interests. Ugh! Go over to the area that was devastated by Hurricane Sandy and start giving money away . . . it will be much better spent!

    March 11, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  22. frespech

    Guest: Are you so naive to think that the President just sits down and writes a foreign aid check to Egypt, Syria or anywhere else on his own initiative. You do know what Congress is for right?

    March 11, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  23. Jodie

    Why doesn't he send that money to a food bank instead?

    March 11, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  24. critical thinking

    So tell me the difference between the Govt taking rich peoples money in the form of income tax and using that money to keep the White House tours open vs the Govt taking a rich person's money that is offered to them to keep the White House tours open. People forget that the Govt doesn't have their own money, it's the taxes they collect from the tax payers that keep this govt going. They work for us, not the other way around.

    March 11, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  25. jim

    We been sending money to Egypt for 50plus years..Get a clue!!

    March 11, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
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