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

    -Rudy NYC

    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.
    That is the Trump standard method of operation, not paying the contractors when the general contractor and/or the construction management company files for bankruptcy when the project nears completion.
    Oh, I know. I just wanted to ask our friend here how its that a person who uses bankruptcy laws as a tactical and strategic business tool should be praised as a sage.

    March 11, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  2. CB

    Edward, cuts that hurt people? Why aren't you complaining about the people losing their paychecks, their educational support, their health care? White House tours being cut are not "hurting" anyone, it is an incovenience.

    March 11, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  3. mh916

    Did anyone notice that the guards are paid $50 an hour? That's over $100,000 a year! 37 guards make over $100K a year? There's where the money is going.

    March 11, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  4. unknown11

    So the people who would normally do this job, are being reassigned. Net savings is zero. Obama, quit playing games and do the job.

    March 11, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  5. n222s

    You do know that the cost of the tours, on a yearly basis, are equal to 51 hours of flight time on Air Force 1. So, the next time he flies here or there to promote his agenda, remember that number. Oh, he needs to go on AF1 on official business. To be sure. But to promote his agenda? The next time he goes on vacation or plays golf in Florida, remember that number. And, I almost forgot, the official White House calligraphers make, combined, $270,000. They aren't being laid off. You know, we have these newfangled inventions, called printers, that could do the job cheaper. And that 28 car entourage to take the Republicans out to dinner? How much did that cost?

    Of course, the immediate response will be from many, Bush did too. But does that make it right?

    As a compromise, how about this; whoever the next President is, lets call that person to task if they use Air Force 1 to fly somewhere for a photo op or just to play golf or to go visit their place in Texas or wherever. Deal?

    March 11, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  6. Moose muffin

    CNN is very careful not to make the President look bad. He is bad. Everyone knows it. Any President that would hurt the people of the country he was sworn to protect, should be impeached. Closing the White House was probably Michele's idea so that she could romp privately through her house. Benghazi, fast and furious, the lack of transparency, all the lies from closing Gitmo to taxes, more golf than any President ever and during such a tumultuous time in our history, his illegal relatives, making Republicans look bad so that Democrats look good for the next election is so immature. Bush stopped playing golf after 911.

    March 11, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  7. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Gingrich and Trump wanting to pay for WH tours is like the KKK adopting-a-highway in Georgia and claiming that they're doing their civil duty. Please go away.

    March 11, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    It's a good thing to have the Tours continue! So, take his $$ already! Why is it 'technically' not possible? – @Marita.
    You can't take what is not being put on the table, nor what he doesn't have.
    This is nothing but another gimmick to (1) Keep us on this thread talking about something that's NOT going to happen, and (2) Keep The Dump's P.R. person employed.
    Nothing to see here...

    March 11, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  9. Logic N LA

    Rudy NYC-if it wasn't for the poor, there would be about half the jobs in this country and as a result, the rich would have less. The falacy that the rich create jobs is a laugh. they buy stocks, they buy land. In the 21st century- they only care about money nothing to help this country. Name a "rich" person that created a job in the past 10 years?

    March 11, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  10. Sarah

    How nice of Donald to offer up cash to pay for something of utmost importance to the country. I would rather that he donate it to an effective jobs training program, or somewhere else where it might actually help people in dire need.

    March 11, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  11. hollywoodaholic

    Only if plastered with the Trump brand, no doubt. Spare us.

    March 11, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  12. Adam

    It's a pretty lame tour, anyway.

    March 11, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  13. The Real Tom Paine


    Did anyone notice that the guards are paid $50 an hour? That's over $100,000 a year! 37 guards make over $100K a year? There's where the money is going.
    And paying them minimum wage would be acceptable-what am I saying, of course the Righties think that. Maybe the NRA could train some of their volunteers to help out for free, like the man who accidentally discharged his gun in a school last week? The Minute Men and the Corpos are back!

    March 11, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  14. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Does that mean Trump is resigning his position as Birther-in-Chief?? Hehe...the tea party is going down.

    March 11, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  15. american4545

    5o bucks an hour!!!!!! They make more in one day than I do in a week. You want to save money, start there, I'll take the job at half that price easy.

    March 11, 2013 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  16. Michael

    Edward and Company,

    If you don't know what you are talking about, you need to keep your mouth shut. The reason why the guards supplied by the Secret Service can be used elsewhere is because, not all vacancies are being filled during the sequester; hence there is budgetary savings. And if the rest of you GOP penny wise, pound foolish, tight wads thinks $50 is too much money to pay for Secret Service guard protection of the White House, there is absolutely no hope for you. And to think you all probably feel the $1 trillion or so spent on the unnecessary war is Iraq was well spent, that speeks volumes of you IQ.

    March 11, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  17. Michael

    I guess calling a group of republicans "tight wads" is too much for the CNN censors. Absurd moderation!

    March 11, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  18. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    The President's "Tean of Rivals" thing is working after all.

    March 11, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  19. Michael

    No surprise that criticizing the CNN moderators is not allowed.

    March 11, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  20. SFRich

    They should take him up on his offer, but not allow any advertising or other acknowledgements. If Trump is doing this for the US public (unlikely) and not himself (most likely), then those are reasonable terms.

    And... this is the closest Trump will ever get to the White House.

    March 11, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  21. ja

    donald trump would serve america better if he dealt in real estate only, his stance is a valid as a three dollar bill, as a matter of fact i will pay him to stfu

    March 11, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  22. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    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?
    Your whole ridiculous claim is based on The Dump actually paying for the tours, which he won't because he can't and you can bet your latest conservative delusion that he knew that before he made "the offer".
    Secondly, is this your first go-around with a Trump "promise"? Sure sounds like it.
    ACT like you know.

    March 11, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  23. freedom

    Now there's someone who puts his money where his mouth is.

    March 11, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC


    You do know that the cost of the tours, on a yearly basis, are equal to 51 hours of flight time on Air Force 1. So, the next time he flies here or there to promote his agenda, remember that number. Oh, he needs to go on AF1 on official business.
    The Congress delegated the specific cuts to various agencies, not the President. The Super Committee failed to reach a "grand bargain" on how to redistribute them. The POTUS cannot redistribute money from Air Force One to the Secret Service, nor anywhere else for that matter. How much gets appropriated where is the responsibility of the House Ways and Means Committee.

    March 11, 2013 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  25. Obama = worst president ever

    Obama should be ashamed of him self. He is like a little kid that didnt get the candy he wanted, so he resorts to screaming, b1t-ching, and crying. Obama, you su-ck man. You just su-ck badly.

    March 11, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
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