A conversation with Don Trump, Jr. on the campaign trail.
Don Trump Jr. is the eldest son of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and has taken an active and visible role in his father’s campaign. As one of the stars of The Apprentice, Trump is no stranger to the public eye and has been widely praised for the manner in which he and his siblings have represented their father. Trump and his wife, Vanessa, are the parents of five children, live in Manhattan and have been frequent visitors to Nantucket over the years. Recently, N Magazine caught up with Don Trump while he was on the campaign trail.
N MAGAZINE: What is Nantucket’s biggest attraction for you?
TRUMP: I love being able to escape. You have so many great opportunities there. It’s one of the few places where you can go to a beach destination, but also have privacy…and be able to get away and be with your family. Great food. I love the fishing, being out on the water as well.
N MAGAZINE: How much of a surprise was it for you and your family that your father is now neck-in-neck in the race for the presidency?
TRUMP: It’s obviously a surprise and a pleasant one at that. I learned a long time ago never to second-guess my father when he puts his mind to something. When people tell him something’s impossible, that’s usually just the starting point. It’s pretty amazing to see someone without the political experience, without the nonsense, can go this far. I think that’s what’s resonating well with the American people. They’re sick of seeing people making careers and making incredible fortunes out of public service. He’s done everything he needed to do with his life, but he loves his country and wants to give back. He doesn’t owe anyone anything and can do what’s right for the people of this country, not for the special interests, and not for the political elite.
N MAGAZINE: You’ve been thrust into a political process, the likes of which I’m sure you have never seen. What has been the biggest eye opener for you and your family?
TRUMP: It’s a very disingenuous process. I’ll watch my father give a speech over an hour and see the media and the other side take a sentence from minute number two, a sentence from minute number fifteen, a sentence from minute number forty-five and make it seem like it was one thought [that was] totally different than what he was actually talking about. Yes, did he say those words? Sure. But not in the way that they were intended and certainly not in the way that they were played back later. The amount of BS — and I’ll call it that because there’s no other word that will do it justice — is outstanding.
N MAGAZINE: Your father’s trademark in this campaign is a level of candor that has perhaps never been seen before in American politics. Does he have people who manage or try to manage his message?
TRUMP: He has people. People talk to him all day long, policy people. I’ve known him for a long time, and I’ve seen the way he is. He can be as diplomatic as any human being alive. He can be incredibly kind and thoughtful and gentle. But there also comes a time where you have to say, “Enough is enough.” Where you have to sort of lay the hammer down and say, “We have to really address these issues.” He’s done that his whole life, he’s done that his whole career, and it’s nothing new. But it’s certainly new to the DC establishment where they’re used to telling you what you want to hear. They go do whatever they want afterwards, and they’ve got their sound bites. I think he’s fed up — and so are millions of people in this country — [with] the DC culture where everyone has to think for forty-five minutes about a simple thought that has no real consequence… The world’s not as nice a place as we would love it to be. The world’s not always Nantucket. You can’t hang onto this level of nonsense without being able to have some straight talk in there. And that’s what he’s about; it’s straight talk.
N MAGAZINE: How would describe the political climate in Washington?
TRUMP: No one has a free thought. No one has an original thought. It’s so obvious that they can’t think for themselves. There’s a reason that Hillary Clinton hasn’t given a press conference in 220 days. You ask a question that’s actually difficult, and they don’t have time to prepare their stuff and practice it and have four hundred people in an office run computer data analytics to make sure it’s the exact message you want her to say. It doesn’t work, and so I think we need an element of genuineness in our politicians… We can’t run a country trying to scrub every possible thought so as not to offend the three-hundred-something million people in this nation. It’s not going to work. That’s why you see so much gridlock in DC.
N MAGAZINE: Your father indicated that after the primary we would see a more presidential Donald Trump. Are we seeing a more presidential Donald Trump right now?
TRUMP: I think for the most part you already are. He’s always going to be himself. To become a robot like these other people and just regurgitate other people’s thoughts over and over again trying to appease your core base — I don’t think that’s him. But you’ve seen him talk about detail in policy, the people that we’re going to bring on, the things that we’re going to do. It’s not just going to be all shoot from the hip. You’re always going to see him have a personality. You’re always going to see him talk about the things that matter to him. You’re always going to see him at- tack when attacked. That’s the way he is. That’s not going to change, nor should it.
N MAGAZINE: Do you think the Brexit vote was influenced by your father’s campaign?
TRUMP: I think there’s an element of nationalism that people feel and see. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being proud of your country. I feel like this administration is more worried about the feelings of countries, that if had the choice, would push a button and wipe us off the face of the earth. We’re more worried about their feelings than we are about our own people. We’re more worried about people who haven’t gone through a process of getting into this country, than we are about taking care of our own children in terms of education, health care, and our wounded veterans. [Veterans] get worse treatment than if you came into the country illegally. It’s not that we have anything against immigration — I am the son of an immigrant [on my mother’s side], my father is the son of an immigrant — but there’s also a process that people have to go through.
N MAGAZINE: The irony of this race is that despite your father’s extensive background in business, a lot of Wall Street people are saying they’d rather see Hillary win.
TRUMP: It’s because they know that she can be bought. They have been buying her for decades! If there is one thing we can do in this election is point that out to the people, so that they can finally see it. The biggest farce I’ve seen in all of this thing is listening to Hillary Clinton talk about her “life of public service.” I know a lot of public service people who have made their careers doing that, but none of them are worth $200 million. It’s ridiculous. What have [the Clintons] done? What have they built? What have they created? Nothing. The only thing they’ve done is peddled influence to the powerful. To make it easier for the rich to keep getting richer, they’ve peddled influence. It’s the biggest joke in the world. It’s not public service, its self-enrichment and it’s disgusting.
N MAGAZINE: The debates will probably have the highest TV viewership of any debates in history. What do you expect to see in the debates?
TRUMP: I imagine we’ll see some fireworks. I think it’s going to be fun. Hillary Clinton has been preparing for this her whole life, and she’s going to please the people by coming up with little quotes to make it look like she has a personality. It will be interesting to watch, but it will definitely be an event.
N MAGAZINE: Both you and your siblings have gotten a tremendous amount of exposure and very good reviews. Do you have any interest in politics going forward, no matter what happens with your dad?
TRUMP: Yes and no. I’d love to be able to say a more resounding yes, but the reality of the situation is that I’ve met some people that are really good people, intelligent people, hardworking people, and then I’ve met a lot of people that just made their careers as bottom feeders doing whatever the special interests want. Honestly, when I see the amount of nonsense in the process, I don’t know that I want to deal with that. If you had someone like my father in there, that can change it, rather than continue to compound it, it would be an honor to be able to serve your country that way.