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News Guide: A TV star, Trump to take debate’s center stage

August 5, 2015
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FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2002 file photo, Donald Trump holds a driver on the 11th green of his Ocean Trails Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes. Trump’s been telling Americans for nearly three decades that he’s what they really need in the White House, a business-hardened dealmaker-in-chief. Now that he’s actually running for president, Trump gets to say it Thursday night from center stage and in prime-time as the top-polling candidate in the first Republican presidential debate of the 2016 campaign. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
1 of 9
FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2002 file photo, Donald Trump holds a driver on the 11th green of his Ocean Trails Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes. Trump’s been telling Americans for nearly three decades that he’s what they really need in the White House, a business-hardened dealmaker-in-chief. Now that he’s actually running for president, Trump gets to say it Thursday night from center stage and in prime-time as the top-polling candidate in the first Republican presidential debate of the 2016 campaign. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump has been telling Americans for nearly three decades that he is what they really need in the White House — a business-hardened deal-maker in chief.

Now that he is running for president, Trump gets to say it Thursday night from center stage and in prime television time as the top-polling candidate in the first Republican presidential debate of the 2016 campaign.

A guide to the say-anything candidate.

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TRUMP IS ‘REALLY RICH’

Most everyone knows Trump is, as he puts it, “really rich.”

Politicians tend to play down the wealth that separates them from most in the United States. Trump, on the other hand, has long been accused of inflating his figures — and even the size of his debt when he nearly went bust in the 1990s — for dramatic effect.

“A little hyperbole never hurts,” Trump wrote in his 1987 book, “The Art of the Deal.” ″People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular.”

Trump says he is worth about $10 billion. The wealth-trackers at Forbes magazine say $4 billon. The Bloomberg Billionaires Index puts him at $2.9 billion.

Based on the imprecise financial disclosures required of federal candidates, it’s safe to say Trump is a billionaire.

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BUILDING THE FAMILY BUSINESS

Trump’s father got him started in real estate. “I learned so much just sitting at his feet playing with blocks listening to him negotiate with subcontractors,” Trump said in June as he announced he was running for president.

Fred C. Trump built and owned thousands of rental apartments and townhouses in New York. The family estimated his worth at between $250 million and $300 million when he died in 1999.

A natural showman, Donald Trump says he was drawn to the glamour of a movie-making career as a young man. But he decided going into the family business would be smarter.

He worked for his father while earning an economics degree at the University of Pennsylvania. By the time he graduated college in 1968, Trump says he was worth about $200,000 — more than $1 million in today’s dollars.

Trump, 69, says he ignored his father’s advice by venturing into the big leagues of Manhattan real estate, where he made his fortune.

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PAST RUNS FOR PRESIDENT

Trump flirted with the idea of running for president as far back as 1987, when a New Hampshire Republican activist started a “draft Trump” campaign.

Trump did not run, but gave a teaser speech previewing the pitch he still uses today — that virtually all U.S. politicians are incompetent and only he, as a master negotiator, can outfox foreign leaders. It’s a theme he often has come back to.

“Our leaders are stupid. They’re stupid people. It’s just very, very sad,” Trump said in a profanity-laced speech at a Las Vegas casino, hinting at a 2012 presidential run that did not happen.

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TRUMP ON THE STUMP

Trump is quick to label any critic a “moron” or “loser” or “dummy.”

More creatively, after Sen. John McCain accused him of pandering to their party’s “crazies,” Trump suggested that being tortured and held prisoner of war for five years in Vietnam does not qualify the senator as a war hero. “I like people who weren’t captured,” Trump said.

When Sen. Lindsey Graham, a fellow Republican presidential candidate, said Trump was being “the world’s biggest jackass,” Trump responded by calling Graham an “idiot” and giving out the senator’s private cellphone number to a crowd of supporters and TV cameras.

Lately Trump has taken to warning fellow Republicans that if they do not behave as he wishes during the primary campaign, he will quit the Republican Party and wage a third-party presidential bid, widely seen as a dream scenario for the Democrats. “If I’m treated poorly,” he said, “I will do it.”

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