In a new biography of Sen. Mitt Romney, Romney: A Reckoning by McKay Coppins, the Atlantic staff writer claims that Trump once boasted about his plans to “drop” then-girlfriend Melania during a New England Patriots game at which both Romney and Trump were guests of team owner Robert Kraft.
“Trump sidled up to Romney’s son Josh and pointed at a leggy brunette across the room. ‘Have you seen my girlfriend, Melania?’ he asked, smirking. ‘When I drop her, the phone is gonna ring off the hook. Every guy in New York wants to go out with her,’” Coppins recounts in an excerpt of the forthcoming book obtained by Rolling Stone.
The book, a shockingly candid view of the retiring Utah senator’s political career and life inside the Trump-era Republican Party, details multiple pre-presidential encounters between Romney and the future president. In the excerpt — which largely recounts their first meeting at Mar-a-Lago in the mid-90s — Coppins writes of a Romney who alternates between fascination and disdain for the Queens real estate magnate and his garish lifestyle, foreshadowing a more serious political clash between the two in the years ahead.
Trump’s team did not take kindly to Romney’s characterization of his early meetings with the former president. “Mittens is a loser who is ‘retiring’ because he knows he doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of surviving another campaign,” a Trump spokesperson wrote in response to a request for comment from Rolling Stone. “He should stop lying and creating fake stories in order to stay relevant. The fact is that he dropped the ball when he ran against Barack Obama and is partially responsible for the mess America is in.”
Trump and Romney first met a few years before the run-in at the Patriots game, in January 1995 when the celebrity developer invited the private equity mogul to his Palm Beach estate. Romney, who according to Coppins felt Trump “wasn’t really a ‘businessman’ at all,” nonetheless took the meeting due to an interest in having a “memorable, low-stakes, and deeply weird” experience. Romney was “not above gawking at famous people,” Coppins writes.
Trump rewarded that desire with a “surreal scene” upon arrival, as the entirety of the Mar-a-Lago staff “lined up outside in a white linen uniform, as if posed for a royal reception.” Romney remembers Trump as a “cartoon character” who strutted around the estate “like an English lord.” He found Trump both enamored of his gilded Florida residence and apparently mistaken about its true value. In one scene, the Utah senator recalls Trump leading him on a tour of the club and showing off a drawer full of “gold-colored silverware.”
Trump reportedly gloated that the Post family, which sold the club to him in 1985, “didn’t know this was here when they sold me the place” and that the “silverware is worth more than I paid for the house.”
“I’m gonna make a fortune on this place,” he added. (Trump, who has recently claimed that Mar-a-Lago is worth upwards of a billion dollars, is in the midst of a civil trial over allegations that he falsely inflated the value of his assets, including the Palm Beach club.)
In 1995, Trump’s companies had reportedly racked up nearly a billion dollars in debt. But he appeared unbothered by the outstanding liabilities, according to Romney. He claimed, according to Coppins, that Trump told him that “the only chance [the bank has] of getting anything back is if we keep up appearances,” and that ”they loan me $140,000 a month” to maintain the gaudy Trump personal brand.
Romney, the scion of a wealthy auto executive turned Michigan governor, made his personal fortune in private equity as an executive at Bain Capital but never flaunted his wealth or talked about it much. At the time, the differences between the two men and their approaches to wealth and business — Romney’s starched patrician restraint and Trump’s over-the-top self-indulgence — were stylistic. But they foreshadowed a coming split as Trump’s brand of far-right populism would come to dethrone Romney’s traditional chamber of commerce conservatism.
The stakes for the ascendance of Trump and his brand of politics are on display in previous revelations from the forthcoming book. In one excerpt published last month by The Atlantic, Coppins recounts how Romney now pays a private security firm $5,000 to protect his family since the January 6 insurrection, as he and other Republicans now fear for their families safety from MAGA extremists who accuse them of betraying Trump.
The Romney that gawked at Trump in the mid-90s surely would have never believed the degree to which Trump would change his life decades later. In the excerpt obtained by Rolling Stone, Coppins writes that after Romney departed Mar-a-Lago nearly 30 years ago in January, he doubted he would ever see Trump again.
Source link: https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/trump-bragged-drop-melania-romney-1234856364/