Donald Trump’s campaign says the convention this week would show the world the real man behind the hair, the baseball hat and the bluster.
There’s an opportunity, campaign manager Paul Manafort says, “to present Mr. Trump not just as the political figure running for office, but as the father, as the businessman, as the compassionate human being that he is when the spotlights aren’t on.”
Our goal all week is to present a picture of Donald Trump that is broader than just the campaign initiative that people have developed from the primary season.
Campaign manager Paul Manafort
Yet at a convention that has been less about Trump and more a steady torrent of criticism aimed at presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, the efforts at humanizing him have been few and far between. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he’s been friends with Trump for 14 years, but the former U.S. attorney spent most of his prime-time speech on Tuesday delivering a prosecution of Clinton’s domestic and foreign policy record as the audience chanted “guilty” and “lock her up.”
Trump, he offered, is the alternative: “We have a man who is unafraid.”
It took his children to offer some personal touches: Daughter Tiffany Trump said Tuesday she keeps all her report cards – dating back to kindergarten to look back at “the sweet notes he wrote on each and every one of them.”
She said she looks forward to introducing her father to her friends, especially those with preconceived notions: “They meet a man with natural charm and no facade. In person, my father is so friendly, so considerate, so funny and so real.”
Donald Trump Jr., who said he spent time with his father “on job sites and in conference rooms” as soon as he could walk, said his father valued the opinions of “regular Americans.”
“We didn’t learn from MBA’s,” said Trump, who, like his father, graduated from the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania. “We learned from people who had doctorates in common sense.”
He described his father as someone who considers “impossible” a starting point.
“When people told him it was impossible for a boy from Queens to go to Manhattan and take on developers in the big city, rather than give up he changed the skyline of New York,” Trump said. “I’ve seen that look in his eyes when people say it can’t be done.”
Other Trump personal details gleaned from convention speeches:
1. He’s a patriot and “intensely loyal” to his family.
“He has the utmost respect for his parents, Mary and Fred; to his sisters, Maryanne and Elizabeth; to his brother Robert; and to the memory of his late brother, Fred,” his wife Melania Trump said in an address that offered broad generalities and zero anecdotes. “His children have been cared for and mentored to the extent that even his adversaries admit they are an amazing testament to who he is as a man and a father.”
He is tough when he has to be, but he is also kind and fair and caring.
Melania Trump, of her husband
2. He has insisted on helping others anonymously.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who said he’s known Trump for nearly 30 years and described him as a family friend, took issue with what he called “defamation of Donald Trump” by the press and the Clinton campaign, aiming squarely, it appeared, at a Washington Post investigation that has been unable to corroborate Trump’s claim that he has given millions of dollars to charity out of his own pocket.
“Every time New York City suffered a tragedy, Donald Trump was there to help,” Giuliani said. “He’s not going to like my telling you this, but he did it anonymously. When police officers were shot, when firefighters were hurt, when people were in trouble, he came forward and he helped and he asked not be mentioned. This is a man with a big heart who loves people.”
3. He has three things in common with fellow reality TV star, Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty.
“We’re both successful businessmen – though I flew commercial and I’m guessing he didn’t. We’ve both had hit TV shows. And we both have intelligent wives who are MUCH better looking than we are,” Robertson said.
4. He is not the messiah.
“Is he a messiah?” asked “Happy Days” star Scott Baio. “No, he’s just a man.”
5. He liked mixed martial arts before it was popular and helped a fight promoter build his business.
Dana White, president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship said Trump recognized the business’s potential even as it was shunned as a “bloodsport” by state athletic commissions and barred from sporting arenas.
“Nobody took us seriously. Nobody except Donald Trump,” White said, adding that Trump encouraged him to build the business and hosted its first two events at one of his venues.
“He got in the trenches with us and made a deal that worked for everyone,” White said. “And he showed up to the fights on Saturday night and sat in the front row. Yeah, he’s that guy. He shows up.”
6. He likes to send notes (and he reads the New York Times):
In 2011, when White signed a network TV deal with FOX and the New York Times wrote about it, Trump sent him the article.
Across it he wrote: “Congratulations Dana, I always knew you would do it.”
7. He’s a life member of the National Rifle Association, as are his sons, Don and Eric, NRA lobbyist Chris Cox said.
8. He played a role in the creation of golfer Natalie Gulbis’s Boys and Girls Club.
The pro golfer said the first time she played golf with Trump in 2005, she told him she had long dreamed of opening a Boys and Girls Club -- and that she was frustrated that as a woman she was overlooked and underpaid in business.
Trump, she said, offered advice that changed her life: “Never fear challenging the status quo." She said Trump encouraged her not to think of herself as a female athlete, but as a business person.
“Even today, I face challenges and Donald remains a consistent voice encouraging me to stand up to gender injustices and to lean in to any professional challenges that come my way,” she said.
9. He listens.
“You often hear Donald Trump talk, but what you don’t see is when he listens,” said Kerry Woolard, the manager of Trump’s Virginia winery and hotel who credited him with reviving a once-failing property and being a “man of vision” who “sees what others don’t, making life better for people and communities across the nation.”