Political News

Is Trump a Regular Guy? Yes, an Ex-Aide Says, Sometimes He Drives His Rolls-Royce

Posted August 15, 2018 4:16 p.m. EDT

WASHINGTON — Being a billionaire president sometimes means confronting doubts that you understand the lives of regular people. That’s especially true for President Donald Trump, who has built a political reputation for caring about working-class people despite decades of gold-plated living arrangements.

On Wednesday, the question was put to Corey Lewandowski, the president’s onetime campaign manager: Does Trump comprehend the daily routines of most Americans — like pumping gas or buying groceries?

Of course, Lewandowski said.

“He loves to drive. I shouldn’t tell the story; I’ll get in trouble. But I remember he was driving his Rolls-Royce from New York City one day up to the golf course in Bedminster,” he recalled at a journalists’ round table organized by The Christian Science Monitor. “And guess what happened, right? When you’re in New York and you’re on your telephone, you’re driving your Rolls-Royce up to New Jersey, you get stopped. Right? And so I remember, he’s like: ‘Corey, I’m going to let you go. I just got pulled over.’ ”

Lewandowski told the story with no hint of irony. It followed another example of Trump-as-regular-guy in which Lewandowski recalled Trump paying for dinner one night on the campaign trail in Iowa.

“We went to an Iowa steakhouse and we sat down and there was about five of us. And the bill came and he took out his American Express card, which I thought was pretty cool,” Lewandowski said. “He took out his gold — his platinum — American Express card and he paid the bill.”

Trump set off a fresh round of speculation about his understanding of the lives of most Americans late last month, when he claimed that shoppers needed IDs to buy groceries. But Lewandowski argued that the president is just like everyone else. He likes to drive (and sometimes gets pulled over). He takes his staff out for dinner.

“He’s very aware of what things cost and what people do on a day-to-day life because — he’s rich, but that’s just who he is,” Lewandowski said.

If there was a moment that Trump’s former campaign manager thought his Everyman stories might resonate poorly with the president’s most ardent supporters, it came near the end of the answer, when he quickly added a mention of fast food.

“When we would go to a McDonald’s or a fast-food place on the campaign trail, he would know what it would cost because he would take out the cash and he would pay for,” Lewandowski said. “We go in and we’d buy the food and he’d get the change back.”

“I think a misperception of Donald Trump is he has no understanding what things cost,” he said. “That’s absolutely not the case.”