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. The Real Tom Paine

    @ Fair is Fair-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.

    Question Guest on his/her numbers first, or do you give your fellow travelers a pass?

    March 11, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  2. The Real Tom Paine

    -Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer


    And how much did GWB and the GOP send to Iraq and Afghanistan??? $5.5 Trillion and counting.
    Curious, where did you hear that?

    March 11, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  3. 2012liberal

    @Fair Obama paid 4 his own vacation and yr not writing on fox news that what u right is opinion not facts. Ppl on here r smarter than that!

    March 11, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. mouche

    He just found another tax deduction and millions of dollars of free publicity.

    March 11, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  5. A True Conservative

    Wow – all the liberals complaining that the rich aren't paying their fair share – now a rich person steps up to do more out of their own pocket and liberals are upset. Imagine that! It's all about the liberals desire for a large government and their love of class warfare. Nothing else. I wonder when Buffet and others will step forward and offer to do something like this – never mind – I already know the answer to that question!

    March 11, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  6. George

    He spent $100,000s to the school his daughter ended up going to before she was admitted. He talks on and on about Obama's transcript, (hinting Obama benefiteed from affirmative action). I want to know what qualifications his daughter had to get into the school she went to (I went there, it's how I know about his donations, we get an Alumnae magazine that lists donations). So what's the truth, was she equally qualified to go there? Or did some superiorly qualified girl lose her place because you bought your daughter's place? If you live in a Glass house, don't throw stones

    March 11, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  7. jerryab

    I'd trust Scrooge McDuck over Donald Trump anytime–especially when it comes to money.

    March 11, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  8. Conservastive Bill

    Its very sad that we are even having this discussion. $2 million dollars is just over one one thousandth of our deficit. That is .0015384615 for those who want an exact number. There are better things to cut like golfing with Tiger Woods, or a dinner for Malia and five friends in a fancy New York restaurant, Buddakan, with the necessary security guards and secret service agents. Take out these two things and you could fund tours for the next seven months.

    March 11, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  9. Andy Daniel

    I'm not going to argue which party is responsible for the sequester. But the White House had a choice to make:
    1) Cancel tours and be lambasted for cancelling tours, or
    2) Not cancel tours and be lambasted for spending money on tours when other more essentiual services are being cut.

    The Republicans could easily write two speeches well in advance and just wait to decide which one to give.

    March 11, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    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?
    Can you say "Secret Service"? The Romney campaign did not pay for its' security here or abroad. All of the leading candidates for POTUS got some protection in 2012. Gingrich's detail was costing taxpayers $40,000 per day in just salaries, not to mention vehicles, lodging and meal expenses.

    March 11, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  11. Spare me.

    So Trump now wants to work with the White House, a year after blowing a bunch of hot air about Obama's birthplace. And of course the conservatives are butthurt about Obama's golf game, but were noticeably silent when their beloved Dubya took a 5-week vacation to Texas. Oh, but I'm living in the past, right? Spare me.

    By the way, whether you know it or not, your tax dollars are going to a lot of things you don't even know about. Stop using the golf game to make yourself look informed, because you don't.

    March 11, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  12. Art

    while reading the article, twice. I don't really understand why the tours should be canceled all together. It seems to me that if the Secret Service is going to take a 5% reduction. (that's 84M from 1.6B), that it just stops tours two days a month. that would be about 6%.
    Problem = Solution

    March 11, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  13. Misty

    Wait a minute – the article said it cost $50 per hour for 40 hrs a week for the 37 uniformed officers and they would save that cost – however – it then goes on to say they will be reassigned to other locations in the white house – so they will still be paying the same officers the same amount. How is that saving anything?? Obama is just doing this to try and make the "Sequester" look like it is hurting kids trying to learn. He isn't fooling anyone – especially ME!!

    March 11, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  14. Jules

    I say go for it – 2 million through Sept. No tax write-off.

    March 11, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  15. JLM

    CJ – please post your proof of what you say about Donald Trump about scewing contractors. If you don't post then you are making it up. Why do some people hate rich people so much? Did a poor person ever create a job for you?

    March 11, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  16. Obama

    Obama just stopped the tours to act like a crybaby. It's really has nothing to do with decreases in spending.

    March 11, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  17. JLM

    To: Spare me – "Dubya took a 5-week vacation to Texas". Did you know that President Bush had an office at his home in Texas and was probably working the entire time? At least he wasn't flying someplace every day.

    March 11, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  18. should know better

    Every time something needs to get done in congress we get the back and forth blame game Remember that Bush put up in this mess with the War that his father Started over oil. Donald Trump how about opening a free college or something more productive than worrying about WH tours

    March 11, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  19. Sharon Mahart

    No way Barack Hussein allows Trump to upstage him. The narrative is that the cuts are the end of the world, and nobody is going to prove otherwise.

    March 11, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  20. Dean

    That's how much it costs to pay 37 uniformed officers $50 an hour......................Over $100,000.00 a year for a uniformed guard at the White House. And who says the government wastes money.

    March 11, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  21. Chris

    Gingrich & Trump are losers just looking to stir the pot. This is why nothing gets done in DC. These two have no clue

    March 11, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  22. Tommy G

    Obama's plan to cause massive pain, suffering and problems for the American people is going to backfire BIG TIME on him and the Democrats. Obama is already tanking in the polls. The Obama Sequester is now followed by the Obama Tantrum and the American people see the game Obama is playing. They are not as stupid as Obama thinks they are.

    Democrats will pay dearly for the Obama Tantrum in the 2014 elections. Good move Democrats! Keep up the good work!!

    March 11, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  23. Vince

    He probably shouldn't spend the money...who knows when his NEXT bankruptcy might come.

    March 11, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  24. The Real Tom Paine


    To: Spare me – "Dubya took a 5-week vacation to Texas". Did you know that President Bush had an office at his home in Texas and was probably working the entire time? At least he wasn't flying someplace every day.
    Air Force One is an office, and your boy W took over 280 days of vacation at this stage of his reign of error. Your "probably working" statement reveals a lot of wishful thinking on your part, I think.

    March 11, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  25. should know better

    how bout taking your money and pay for a cancer patient's care with your cash i'm pretty sure any of those persons in need would be grateful

    March 11, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
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