Businessman Donald Trump once called the White House and offered to help with one of the biggest disasters during President Barack Obama’s time in office: the 2010 BP oil spill.
Trump told Business Insider on Thursday that the spill was not the main reason he reached out to top Obama adviser David Axelrod. Trump, who has said he’s considering running for president in 2016, was mostly interested in building a grand ballroom for the US to host foreign leaders.
“I saw that the United States, when they host a dignitary, such as the head of China, head of India, they put up a cheap tent by the White House and I thought that was inappropriate,” said Trump. “The purpose of the call was to offer the United State, free of charge, a $US100-million-plus ballroom for the White House so they could host dignitaries.”
According to Trump, the BP spill, in which millions of gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico after a rig exploded, came up as a side issue.
“I may have mentioned, ‘If you need help with the oil spill, I will get my people involved,'” he said.
In Axelrod’s account, however, Trump was much more direct in his offer to get involved.
“That admiral you have down there running this leak operation seems like a nice guy, but he doesn’t know what he’s doing,” Trump told Axelrod, according to the Obama adviser’s new book, “Believer: My Forty Years in Politics.” “I know how to run big projects. Put me in charge of this thing, and I’ll get that leak shut down and the damage repaired.'”
In the book, Axelrod wrote that he told Trump the administration was close to plugging the hole, and by the time the two next talked, the problem was already fixed. Axelrod said the ballroom idea came up in that subsequent conversation.
“Yeah, yeah, it looks like you have that one under control,” Trump allegedly acknowledged a few weeks later, according to Axelrod. “But I’ve got another thing for you. I build ballrooms. Beautiful ballrooms. You can go to Tampa and check one of them out for yourself. … I see you have these state dinners on the lawn there in these s—ty little tents. Let me build you a ballroom you can assemble and take apart. Trust me. It will look great.'”
Trump told Business Insider that it was “amazing” the White House didn’t ultimately take him up on the ballroom idea.
“Frankly, they should have picked me up on the offer,” he said, “because I would have built a magnificent ballroom.”
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