Free Minds & Free Markets

What Drives Donald Trump? 'He's got money, he's got fame...Power is what's left'

Trump biographer Jerome Tuccille on the secret compulsion behind the billionaire's presidential bid.

"Donald Trump is to me the American version of Vladimir Putin," says Jerome Tuccille, the best-selling author of the very first biography—1985's Trump—of the billionaire developer. Between his bullying rhetorical style, barely contained xenophobia, and scurrilous comments about Mexican immigrants, Tuccille says Trump "is appealing to the worst elements in our society."

The author of works about the libertarian movement, Ernest and Julio Gallo's wine empire, Ernest Hemingway's politics, and much more, Tuccille's latest book is The Roughest Riders: The Untold Story of the Black Soldiers in the Spanish-American War.

"When republics start to fail, as ours is, it opens the door for demagogue, a strong man. People say they want somebody new," Tuccille tells Reason's Nick Gillespie.

That might explain Trump's appeal to voters, but why does The Donald want to run for president? "He needs power," says Tuccille, whose deeply researched bio on Trump hit the best-seller lists when it was released. "He's got money, he's got fame. What's left for him? Power is what's left."

Run time: 8 minutes.

Camera by Todd Krainin and Joshua Swain. Edited by Amanda Winkler.

 Scroll down for downloadable versions, and subscribe to Reason TV's YouTube Channel to receive immediate updates when new material goes live.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • dbw1977||

    there is a huge fascination between Reason writers and Trump.

    I think you guys are almost obsessed with the man.

    I don't want him as President anymore than any of the other fools who are running, on either side of the aisle. That said, I'd almost take him over a career politician who may let more immigrants in BUT tax the hell out of me for it and other things that career politicians do.

    Seriously though... why don't you focus on Biden, or Carson, or someone else for a while.

  • Suicidy||

    You're right. It gets old. Hell, there are mutilple Trump articles on most days anymore.

  • XM||


  • XM||

    never mind

  • wareagle||

    and again, the point is missed. This is far less about Trump, per se, than it is about the circumstances that make Trump possible. And Carson, maybe even Fiorina. None has ever held political office.

    People are frustrated by the ineptness, if not impotence, of the status quo and in the absence of real leadership, they gravitate toward the thing that most closely resembles it. Trump is not PC, which plays well to many. He is blunt rather than apologetic, which also plays well. And remember the audience - these are folks who voted Repubs into majorities in both houses only to watch the feckless Boehner/McConnell team do less than nothing.

  • Galane||

    Too many of the elephants are actually rinos.

  • Suicidy||


  • Chip Off!||

    I get that Reason doesn't like Trump. So, who the fuck do they want us to like? Another idiot Bush??

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    Turn in your libertarian card, if you think the reason staff wants you to vote for some endorsed candidate. Just go away, find some other shephard to follow around. Baaa humbug.

  • Suicidy||

    Given the recent list of pro proggy articles, I suspect we're supposed to vote for Bernie Sanders as the true libertarian choice. Or settle for kankles

  • Knarf Yenrab!||

    I hope The Real Tuccille berated and embarrassed his kid in front of all his little friends before he left the premises that day.

  • Knarf Yenrab!||

    And Trump is, like Obama, just another illustration of the rational ignorance of voters. He is precisely the kind of all-hat-no-cattle bloviator you would expect from a system in which the price of stupid opinions and decision-making is externalized to everyone else one vote at a time.

    JT is overdramatic with his end of the republic, rise of Caesar bit. The republic collapsed long ago, and the executive has held massive, arbitrary power for longer than anyone has been alive today. That we enjoy the relative freedoms we do speaks to the power of technology and the discovery that you can get far more milk from a tax cow turned out to pasture than you can from one that's pent up in the barn all day.

  • RJ The Terrible||

    Trump is a board billionaire playboy. The only thing I like about him is that he is making the asshats that comprise TEAM RED Leadership sweat bullets. Those fuckups are praying for Bush III. It is pathetic. The shame of it is that President Trump is just as pathetic, only in a different way. Looking at the 16 dwarves running for president on one side and the four stooges on the other ... I am voting for Bill and Opus.

  • Thomas515||

    I just started 6 weeks ago and I've gotten 2 check for a total of $4,200...this is the best decision I made in a long time! "Thank you for giving me this extraordinary opportunity to make extra money from home. This extra cash has changed my life in so many ways, visit this following website for more details,,, thank you!"


  • Suicidy||

    Does anyone actually click on those links? Ever?

  • biljay||

    The USA spends more on the war bureaucracy than all of the next seven countries combined, yet Trump wants to beef up the war bureaucracy, which is another sign he loves power. Power corrupts and the corruptible are attracted to power.

  • mfckr||

    A Trump presidency would be a cynically hilarious outcome, so I'm all for it.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Dump the Trump already!

    Just Google “Donald Trump” “Vera Coking” and find a billion +1 hits! Sample =
    This is NOT a “man of the people”, except if he’s listed as a “man of the people who believe in stealing elderly ladies’ homes for The Donald’s limo parking lots” and “man of the people who are not illegal people” and finally, “man of the people who believe in the ASCENDANCY OF THE DONALD!!!

    WHY is the media NOT asking The Donald about Vera Coking, and what this shows about His Supremacy, The Donald?

  • Devil's Candy||

    When is Reason going to write about Libertarians?

  • SQRLSY One||

    When libertarians start winning elections... Until then, The Donald has assigned libertarians the place of being "losers", pure and simple. And... WHO can challenge The Donald??!?!

    Libertarians are gonna hafta take a lesson from The Donald, and tell the peoples What They Wanna Hear, in order to get elected... Lies? "Machs Nix", just tell 'em what they wanna hear...

    Libertarians will tax the fella behind the tree, not you or me, and turn unicorn farts into anti-gravity pods and other FREE SHIT!!!!

  • Hank Phillips||

    Winning elections? We don' need to ween no steenkin' elections, menh. We've been changing laws for 43 years now, and as soon as the LP gets 5% of the vote--one tenth of a win--you can shitcan those 1040 forms, cancel the War on Everything, and own your own home without a thought of asset forfeiture landing you in the street in midwinter.
    The commies and prohibitionists never won elections. So howcum the income tax went from communist manifesto to US Constitution and beer became a felony for 14 years? Integrity changes laws. Lip-synching government news channels perpetuates coercion and robbery.

  • Disheveled||

    There are no libertarians on the stage tonight.

  • Suicidy||

    Out here in the perimeter there are no libertarians. Out here, we is stoned..........immaculate.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Jimmy?!?! Is that you? The Lizard King?!?!?

  • Suicidy||

    They did. Didn't you see the Bernie Sanders article a day or two ago? Apparently p, Sanderrs is the real libertarian candidate.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Riiight... War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength!

  • Galane||

    Seems to me it's more that he's fed up with the communization the government has been going through ever since the first term of Franklin Roosevelt.

    FDR's National Recovery Act was essentially an attempt to nationalize the major industries of the USA. The Supreme Court struck it down as unconstitutional.

    So then what happened? An unending string of labor union strikes that have pushed most of the heavy industries out of business or out of the country. If the left can't control it, they'll destroy it.

    Over the past 70 years, the same happened to the United Kingdom. Their industry was destroyed and their world spanning influence dismantled piece by piece.

    Reagan and Thatcher temporarily blocked, but since they left office the lefties have worked even harder at expanding the power of government on their long march down the shining path to a new revolution.

  • Hank Phillips||

    The producers and leaders listened to the Methodist White Terror chanting "prohibition brought prosperity, jailing the poor works." Ford, Crowther, Billy Sunday, Thomas Edison, Brookhart, Willebrandt, Dawes, Wilson, Borah, Volstead, Bishop Cannon, Herbert Hoover and of course Roger Babson, plus hundreds of "capitalist" executives all chorused in the polls that America was rich because of the Prohibition amendment. Then Herb Hoover actually enforced it in the name of altruism. The looter parties NEVER endorsed legalization of beer till the day FDR declared for repeal a month before the election. The same thing happened, mutatis mutandis, when Reagan and Thatcher valued prohibition over freedom. Pointing guns in people's faces "to help them" gets the exact turnabout it deserves. The "lefties" seen their chances and took 'em. In that they proved themselves intelligent compared to the religious right.

  • The Iconoclast||

    Fourteen months until the election. Fourteen more months of wall-to-wall election coverage.

  • Hank Phillips||

    You mean DemoGOP dinning? That's coverage?

  • mahave||

    Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do...... ✹✹✹✹✹✹

  • ReneeMcKenna||

    I just started 6 weeks ago and I've gotten 2 check for a total of $4,200...this is the best decision I made in a long time! "Thank you for giving me this extraordinary opportunity to make extra money from home. This extra cash has changed my life in so many ways, visit this following website for more details,,, thank you!"


  • Hank Phillips||

    Trump, Ross Perot, Nixon. Go to Google News archives search. "Ross Perot" returns the exact same crap we are looking at today under Trump. Even the Oct. 1992 Sun Journal editorials--excessive force by cops, $8T deficits, Mexican workers... same DemoGOP stuff--and not a single word about the 20-year-old Libertarian Party, platform or candidates. Holy War Bush's party swapped back to being the Outer Party, and Identical looters advanced one square to Inner Party. All three players divvied up X million dollars in campaign subsidy boodle per Nixon's Presidential Election Campaign Fund Act passed one day before the Libertarian Party officially formed. Every time the telescreen screams Trump and War, it is drowning out other names like freedom, libertarian, repeal, legalization, thrift, choice, decriminalization, ownlife and peace. Surely Reason can find something else to parrot, or better, write about.

  • ||

    ✔✔✔✔Start your home business right now. Spend more time with your family and earn. Start bringing 78$/hr just on a c0mputer. Very easy way to make your life happy and earning continuously. Start here…. ..........................................

  • pronomian||

    Every politician needs power, the love the power, they will do or say anything to gain and keep power. Funny that this article assumes it is only trump that "needs" power.

  • SIV||

    Who's a better candidate this go round? Paul? he's all but out. Cruz? he's angling to be Trump's VP


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online