Donald Trump allowed the New York Times' Mark Leibovich to follow him around for a few days, provided he promise to "write fairly" about the current GOP front-runner. Leibovich's piece is, in fact, eminently fair -- Trump will surely weigh in on whether he thinks it was on Twitter any second now -- but it also amply demonstrates just how unaware Trump is of the ironies and contradictions that are driving his campaign.
The man's whose "Apprentice" catch-phrase was a harshly barked "You're fired!" said of American voters, for example, that "they want success. They wanted humility in the past. They wanted a nice person," but that for the record, "I am a nice person."
"Our country needs to be glamorized," he later told Leibovich. "The branding of our country is at an all-time low. Now, ‘branding’ might not be the most beautiful word to use, but the fact is the country has been labeled so badly."
"Jimmy Carter used to get off Air Force One carrying his luggage," he said by way of a poor example of branding. "I used to say, 'I don’t want a president carrying his luggage.' We want someone who is going to go out and kick ass and win."
Trump later confessed that he is "very, very clean," to the point of being germophobic. Of a spread in his Boeing 757, he said "there's more food than it’s yooooomanly possible to eat," before offering Leibovich some shrimp. "You like shrimp?" he asked, and started in on a story about his disdain for double-dippers. "This big, heavy guy takes the shrimp, puts it in, bit it and puts it in again. I said, ‘You just [expletive] double-dipped!’ He didn’t know what I was talking about."
He was also adamant about that he didn't need to prepare for the campaign, physically or mentally. "All my friends who work out all the time, they’re going for knee replacements, hip replacements — they’re a disaster." Standing in front of a crowd for three hours, "that's exercise," he said. As for his tossed-off preparation for debates and his preference for just winging it, he compared his technique with Mitt Romney's, who spent days locked away with books and experts. That's why, Trump argued, "he was unable to speak" in the debates themselves.
Trump listed "empathy" among his most characteristic features, which he demonstrated by explaining in the third-person that it "will be one of the strongest things about Trump. When I’m in that position, when we have horrible hurricanes, all kinds of horrible things happen, you’ve got to have empathy."
He then, Leibovich noted, returned to watching news about himself on television.