Trump explains why he reneged on his second book

He says the public is finally ready for honesty.

Published January 7, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

The political skill of Donald Trump remains to be demonstrated, but the man certainly knows how to dominate a bestseller list. "The Art of the Deal," "The Art of the Comeback" and "Surviving at the Top" have all occupied the New York Times list. Now that Trump is considering a run for president, his publisher, Renaissance, has just shipped his campaign book, "The America We Deserve." If the heavy turnout at a recent New York book signing is any indication of where the book is going, Trump could be in for another hit.

On Jan. 5, in the lobby of the Trump Tower, an appearance by the possible Reform Party presidential candidate attracted a wall of camera crews and hundreds of fans who poured out the door onto Fifth Avenue and around the corner.

"Three of my books have been bestsellers, but this book is different," Trump said to the throngs. No doubt. As a possible contender for the White House, Trump has to explain why he should be president. (And to a lesser extent, why he no longer fears shaking hands. At the signing, he took a leap of faith and pressed the flesh on several occasions.)

Judging from what Trump wrote in his 1997 book, "The Art of the Comeback," his campaign would seem to be an about-face:

It seems every so often there's some unfounded rumor that I'm considering seeking office -- sometimes even the presidency! The problem is, I think I'm too honest, and perhaps too controversial, to be a politician. I always say it like it is, and I'm not sure that a politician can do that, although I might just be able to get away with it because people tend to like me. Honesty causes controversy, and therefore, despite all the polls that say I should run, I would probably not be a very successful politician.

At the beginning of his marathon book-signing, I asked Trump why, if he considered himself "too honest" for public office, he would run for the presidency? "I think the public has changed," Trump replied. "I think they want honesty."

By Craig Offman

Craig Offman is the New York correspondent for Salon Books.

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