By Annabelle Quince.
In June, real estate tycoon and television personality Donald Trump announced he was running in the Republican US presidential race. Many dismissed him, but within weeks he became the frontrunner in a field of 17 candidates. Annabelle Quince explores where Donald Trump came from, and why he is so popular with a large section of the American electorate.
‘The American dream is dead, but if I get elected president, I will bring it back, bigger and better and stronger than ever before, and we will make America great again. Thank you.’ Donald Trump
Donald Trump portrays himself as a self-made man, but his start in life was anything but humble. His grandfather came to America from Germany in 1885 and made his fortune supplying goods to the miners of the gold fields. His father, Fred Trump, followed suit, making his own fortune building low cost housing after WW1 and WW2 in Queens.
Don Guttenplan, editor-at-large forThe Nation magazine, has followed Trump’s career for decades. It all began, he says, in ‘the part of New York that the tourists never want to go’.
‘In deepest, darkest Queens in Brooklyn, not the chic parts of Brooklyn but the interior, you see these brick high-rise buildings or fairly charmless tract housing,’ says Guttenplan.
‘That’s Trump Village and Trump City; those were built by his father, Fred Trump, who was a quality builder who built homes for lower-middle-class people that they could afford. They were built on the cheap and they were built in large numbers, and that’s what made the fortune that made Trump possible.’
Gwenda Blair, who interviewed Donald Trump many times for her biography Donald Trump: Master Apprentice, explains that his childhood was both privileged and positive.
'There were five children. His father, by the time Donald was born in 1946, was quite successful. They lived in a 23-room house; they had a chauffeur and a maid. The kids were taken to their private schools in a limousine. So this was hardly a hard-luck story. They were already very well-to-do,' says Blair.