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. Gumby

    The guy has no money and he knows the offer will be rejected...big whoop!

    March 11, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  2. ghostriter

    The Donald Bobble Head doll will be sold there. It comes with it's own sequentially numbered rat skin hair piece.

    March 11, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  3. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @Fair & Paine

    Where did the cost of the Iraqi and Afghan wars come from??? Have you ever heard of the CBO? Or have you ever tried googling the costs of the Iraq and Afghan wars??? O' and by the way Fair, last week you told John/KC that the improvement in the economy pertaining to the recent jobs report had nothing to do with the policies of the Obama adninistration. Then you argued that the jobs report was the result of GOPT's policies. Can you please proove how four straight years of fillibustering every jobs bill actually resulted in the economy improving???

    March 11, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  4. The Real Tom Paine


    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?
    Prove that he did not screw contractors, then. Why do republicans worship the rich so much, when its becoming harder to actually become rich? I'm sure a rich person outsourced a least one career of someone you know, and pocketed the diffference. Why do you defend the people who have no interest in helping you?

    March 11, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  5. Marita

    So many angry Posts! I am not a fan of Donald Trump, but why not take him up on his offer? It's a good thing to have the Tours continue! So, take his $$ already! Why is it 'technically' not possible? – @Marita.

    March 11, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  6. Tiz

    Obama has overplayed his hand.....

    March 11, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  7. CryBabies

    @ Sniffit....Fair is Fair isn't whining....Just laying down a smart bet. I see no wrong for the President to agree with this move, although I'm sure red tape would delay this move for a very long time. I'm sure President Obama would not like it as it makes him look.......????

    March 11, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  8. roger

    It's a shame how our tax dollars are used and wasted. Of course nobody in Washington will stand up and say that we should look at all our spending and give-a-ways. That would anger voters who are getting that fluff. We need people with guts in Washington.

    March 11, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  9. jk

    Donald just pay your fair share of taxes and in the future we won't have this problem. You can't give everyone a tax cut every year for 40 yrs straight and not have deficits!

    March 11, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  10. Brian

    ya know, the White House had tours going on long before we had $Trillion dollar deficits.

    March 11, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  11. The Other Bob

    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!
    You don't even have a legitimate question, much less knowing the answer. The "offer" is bogus, anyone with a brain can see that. A citizen can't pay for Secret Service payroll. It's just grandstanding.

    Regarding class warfare: The rich have been waging it for centuries, and you whine about the victims waking up and complaining about it. Nice.

    March 11, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  12. dominican mama 4 obama

    So Obama will allow his DONORS access to the White House, but deny entrance from students?

    If Trump is willing to pay, I say let him. But shame on this president for trying to make all cuts (that he signed into law) as visible as possible. Weak leadership and constant campaigning are his trademark.

    March 11, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  13. TiredOfPaying

    Keep cutting 5% per year until Congress reforms the tax code. I won't be happy until:
    DEA is defunded and War on Drugs ends. Legalize and Tax.
    Private Prison industry is Nationalized and half of it closed down.
    Capital Gains taxed at normal wages rates.
    Foreign Aid ends. Close foreign bases. Cut Milltary by half.
    Tax US companies on out-of-country profits. 100% tax penalty on offshored jobs salary.

    Washington better get used to cuts. I have and there is nothing left to cut in my personal life. Hey, I know! I'll start tours of MY home! Donald, you willing to pay to see what it looks like to be pushed out of the Middle Class?

    March 11, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  14. Brian

    Why are we paying security guards $100,000 a year? No wonder government wastes so much money. I bet we could find plenty of other trained security professionals or even honorably discharged vets that would do the work for a lot less than $100,000! What a waste.

    March 11, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  15. critical thinking

    The officers normally assigned to the tours will be reassigned to other duties at the White House. So we are not going to save any money by stopping the tours?

    March 11, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  16. Rudy NYC


    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.
    So how much taxpayer dollars did it cost to design, construct and equip facilities, at his personal house in Crawford, replicating those available at the White House, or onboard Air Force One? What happened to all of these facilites and equipment for Bush and his staff after he left office?

    They have similar facilities at Camp David, which are pemanent, however. Bush spent a lot of time there, too. How many mental images do you have a Pres. Bush walking across the White House lawn, moving to or from the Marine One helicopter.

    March 11, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  17. Dave

    Trump, only willing to pay more in taxes when he thinks it gives him the spotlight.

    March 11, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  18. Chaos

    Obama has overplayed his hand.....

    With Newt/Trump making a silly spectacle like this, its a hand worth having.

    March 11, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  19. Paul

    Trump doesn't give anything without a "payback". If he contributes, he will probably ask for a special favor. He is just so frustrated because, for once, he can't push a president around. Trump is used to having his way and Obama has "taken him behind the woodshed" every time he tries his right wing "stuff".

    March 11, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  20. Name

    Thats one way for Trump to get under Obamas skin.

    March 11, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  21. The Right Left

    Donald Trump is a trailer trash self promoter. IN the end he willnot come up with the money, just like he could not produce any proof that Obama was not born in Hawaii. He said he sent his henchmen to Hawaii to investigate. That was a total lie. He is nothing but a bag of hot air. No more than a carnival barker on the edge, always making noise to get attention.

    Tell him to give that money to the people he has screwed over the years. Or better to a school in a poor negihborhood.

    Waht a waste of human race, this man is.

    March 11, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  22. Republicans; the "Not Intended to be Factually Accurate" Party

    Donald Trump is only seeking publicity that might net him more money. He can neither afford, nor is he inclined, to do anything that serves american interests.

    I actual caught part of his "show" last night and It is clearly on it`s last leg. They have apparently retread a bunch of former "celebrities" for this season which suggests no body really wants to be associated with Trump and that they fear they have to leverage some prior pent up tabloid appeal to wring out another year.

    March 11, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  23. The Real Tom Paine

    Blah Blah, I was just curious about the sources. Stats can be manipulated, and I was just curious as to where you got your numbers. Not an attack.

    March 11, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  24. Trump-a legend in his own mind.

    Purple Widow wrote: 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..

    False. The sequester was a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which also included $1.2 trillion in cuts and zero in tax increases. As you obviously do not care to recall, the bill was voted on in the House and Senate where Republicans voted "yea" with 175 and 28 votes repspectively. You also apparently do not recall Boehner subsequently saying "I got 98% of what I wanted, I'm happy". The cuts are coming half from defense and half from discretionary spending. Obama did not designate from what area, that is why they are across the board in those areas. Where is the accountability for getting your facts straight?

    March 11, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  25. Kareen

    I guess that is the Donalds way of stepping into the W.H.

    March 11, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
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