Reading Donald Trump’s new book, “Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again,” is not much different than listening to him speak at a rally.
In the book, which went on sale Tuesday, Trump complains at length about “journalist cronies” and their “gotcha, gotcha, gotcha” questions. He lays out his plans for reforming the tax code and immigration, while reiterating his desire to replace the Affordable Care Act and make it easier to carry concealed weapons in all states. Trump details his wealth, publishing a copy of his net worth statement, and lists the more than 65 properties he owns and the corporate aircraft in his possession: a Boeing 757, a Cessna Citation X and three Sikorsky 76 helicopters.
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Trump writes that he picked the heavy title, along with a sneering photo of himself for the cover, because the country is in serious trouble: “So I wanted a picture where I wasn’t happy, a pictured that reflected the anger and unhappiness that I feel, rather than joy. Because we are not in a joyous situation right now,” Trump wrote.
While much of the book reads like a script for a rally speech — not that Trump ever uses a script, let alone notes — there are details tucked in here and there that Trump doesn’t often mention at his rallies. Here are a few:
1) Trump used to be a Democrat. Trump is the sort of candidate who prides himself on never apologizing, clarifying or correcting himself. But he acknowledges in the book that he used to be a Democrat — although, so was Ronald Reagan, he writes.
“He switched, and I switched years ago, when I began to see what liberal Democrats were doing to our country,” Trump wrote. “Now I’m a conservative Republican with a big heart. I didn’t decide to become a Republican. That’s who I have always been.”
Trump also explains why he no longer supports having a single-payer health-care system, writing: “To succeed in business, you have to be flexible and you have to change with the realities of the world. The world has changed; I have changed.”
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2) Trump blames himself for his first two marriages failing. Trump frequently brags about his five children, especially his oldest three who now help run his company and have avoided making tabloid news. But in the book, Trump adds: “My children have great mothers.” He adds that “truthfully, I was a much better father than I was a husband, always working too much to be the husband my wives wanted me to be. I blame myself.”
3) Trump thinks global warming is a scam. “I do agree that so-called global climate change is causing us some problems: It’s causing us to waste billions of dollars to develop technologies we don’t need to fulfill our energy needs,” Trump writes in the book, adding that the planet has long experienced extreme changes in climate. Trump instead suggests decreasing reliance on foreign oil by “starting to drill everywhere oil is accessible” in the United States, allowing fracking and approving the Keystone XL Pipeline. He writes that sources of “green energy” are “really just an expensive way of making the tree-huggers feel good about themselves.”
4) Trump wants to get rid of the Department of Education. Or at least “cut its power and reach.” The candidate seldom discusses education issues on the campaign trail, but he dedicated the fifth chapter of his book to the education system’s “failing grade.” Trump suggests fixing these failures by creating more competition for schools by allowing parents more freedom in picking schools for their children. He calls for weakening teachers unions to make it easier to close “weaker schools” and fire “ineffective teachers.” Trump praises charter schools for having a system of accountability not found in public schools where “there is no way to take an honest measurement of how they’re doing.” And he wants to “restore rules about behavior in the classroom” so troublemakers don’t rob their classmates of learning time.
“I’m not concerned about the kids growing up in wealthy communities, where high property taxes have allowed them to build great schools, hire the best teachers, and provide all the supplies they need. Those schools are doing fine,” Trump writes. “In many urban areas, however, schools must fight for every tax dollar and are forced to have teachers and students bring in their own basic supplies such as pencils and paper. That’s a national tragedy.”
5) Trump doesn’t want his Social Security money. Trump writes that the government should give wealthy individuals like himself the opportunity to forgo their Social Security money so that others can benefit. “I would check that box,” Trump writes. “I’m sure there are other wealthy individuals who would do the same thing.”
6) Trump doesn’t really hate the media. The book is packed with criticisms of journalists and news outlets that Trump believes have not fairly covered his campaign. But he also admits that he greatly benefits from heavy coverage of his campaign. He calls this “a mutually profitable two-way relationship.”
“I don’t mind being attacked,” Trump writes. “I use the media the way the media uses me — to attract attention. Once I have that attention, it’s up to me to use it to my advantage. I learned a long time ago that if you’re not afraid to be outspoken, the media will write about you or beg you to come on their shows. If you do things a little differently, if you say outrageous things and fight back, they love you. So sometimes I make outrageous comments and give them what they want — viewers and readers — in order to make a point. I’m a businessman with a brand to sell.”
7) But he hates Trivial Pursuit-style “gotcha questions.” In early September, Trump struggled in answering questions from conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, who drilled the presidential candidate on the names of leaders of terror groups.
“What a ridiculous question,” Trump writes in the book. “I don’t think knowing the names of each terrorist leader more than a year before the election is a test of whether someone is qualified. We’re not playing Trivial Pursuit.”
Later he writes: “Let me tell you something: When I need to know something, I know it.”