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Thursday, 6 January, 2000, 09:38 GMT
Donald Trump: The glamour candidate

Amusing side show or serious contender? No-one quite knew what to make of it when the flamboyant tycoon Donald Trump, owner of glitzy hotels (jacuzzis in every room) and casinos told CNN on 7 October that he was going for the Reform Party nomination.

In February this year Mr Trump Pulled out of the Reform Party saying it was a "total mess".

A gifted self-publicist (no doubt a comment he would savour), Donald Trump is a rich, colourful property developer and casino owner based in New York who has seen as many newspaper column inches devoted to his private life as to his business interests.

His campaign had sought to trade on his glamorous lifestyle and image as a success story of the American dream.


I'm not a big fan of the handshake

Donald Trump
While he has a long record of appearing in the gossip columns, he had no record of political activity.

But with his personal fortune of an estimated $1.6bn, he could have run a formidable campaign and has reputedly considered putting up to $100m behind a campaign.

Many of his buildings bear the name Trump, including the anticipated Trump World Tower, soon to go up in New York, controversially next to the United Nations headquarters. He is also rumoured to looking at investing in London property.

Trump had said he would put his business interests aside during a presidential campaign but his critics say that his candidacy is simply a case of the master publicist doing what he is best at - promoting himself.

Trump would also have had to consider that his two former wives will reveal any skeletons in the cupboard if he chooses to run.

One of the women, Marla Maples, had threatened to tell all.

Policies

Before opting for Ross Perot's Reform Party, Trump was known as a Republican with socially liberal but economically conservative views.

He backs abortion rights - a stark contrast to his Reform Party opponent Pat Buchanan - tax cuts and universal health care.

He supports free trade - but only with the US getting tough with countries that refuse to open their markets.

"Japan for many years has ripped off the United States, big league," he once said. "England has been a terrific partner.

"France has been a terrible partner, a terrible team player."

While he had said he broadly favoured tax cuts, he also proposed a surtax on every person and trust valued over $10m, the proceeds of which would go to paying the national debt.

He had said that would mean he would have to stump up some $700m but economists say his figures didn't add up.

Donald Trump made clear his distaste for the personal campaigning that he would have had to do had he won the Reform Party nomination.

"I'm not a big fan of the handshake," he told US TV channel NBC.

"I think it's barbaric, shaking hands, you catch colds, you catch the flu, you catch this, you catch all sorts of things."

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