Exclusive: NSJ interviews Eric and Lara Trump

North Carolina connections and presidential politics

Eamon Queeney—North State Journal
Lara Yunaska Trump speaks to North State Journal reporters in an interview at Trump National Golf Club Charlotte in Mooresville

MOORESVILLE — Donald Trump held a rally in Charlotte Thursday night, but beforehand North State Journal sat down with his son Eric and daughter-in-law Lara as they visited their signature North Carolina property, Trump National Golf Club Charlotte, for a midday fundraiser.Lara, who is a North Carolina native, growing up on the coast in Wrightsville Beach and a graduate of NC State University, headed Trump’s primary campaign in the state. She spoke to NSJ about Trump’s reinvigorated statewide campaign operations and endearing North Carolinians to the Donald Trump she knows.”I’m excited to be back here in my home state,” she said. “I certainly want to play as big a role as possible. Whether that means going to smaller areas where my father-in-law couldn’t go, and meeting with people, answering their questions, finding out about what’s important to them this election cycle, and just really doing everything we can to connect with all people.”On Trump’s North Carolina strategy for connecting with voters:”I think the people that come to the rallies really are strong Trump supporters and I don’t really think they’re going anywhere, but I do think it’s important to reach out to the other people. Those who might be on the fence, who might not be sure of everything they’ve seen in the media and really let them know what Donald Trump is about. So, I hope I can at least be an advocate for him in that role.”When I was in Wilmington I met with some Republican women who were very enthusiastic about putting stuff together for Mr. Trump and what they suggested is they want to start something called Teas for Trump. Essentially, women hosting teas in their homes around the state and just explaining to their friends why they want to vote for Donald Trump. I think it’s really grassroots, really nice thing to hear that people want to do stuff like that. You know in their home, it’s a relaxed setting, people can ask questions and they can just have a conversation about things. So that’s something I think we want to get underway shortly.”On her North Carolina connections:”I take coming from North Carolina very seriously. Everyone who meets me knows where I’m from. They know I’m a Carolina girl, it’s on all of my social media. I want people to know because I feel very fortunate to have grown up where I did. It takes moving away sometimes to realize how special a place is, and North Carolina as a whole, it’s such an incredible state as we all know, and I take great pride in representing it to everyone including my father-in-law. He asks me often my thoughts on things and my opinion of what’s going on in the state and what’s important here.”All my family for the most part is still here in North Carolina, tons of friends that are still here. My parents are small business owners. A lot of my extended family own small businesses. So, the things that are important to the average person in North Carolina, they tell me about. It’s impacted them. I think hearing a first-person perspective when it comes to my family being affected by things like that, I think it really means something and it impacts my father-in-law when I tell him these things.”On representing her father-in-law in her home state:”My favorite part really is just telling people just what a good person he is. I’ve shared with people in smaller settings some personal stories and things that he’s done and people like to know that he’s human, that he’s a real person, that he’s got a good heart.”Letting them know the Donald Trump that I know and the softer side of him. We all know him from “The Apprentice” and the rallies, but there is a really good heart in there and I just want people to know about it.”Eric, who leads the family’s golf club business, including the purchase and resurrection of what is now Trump National Golf Club Charlotte, explained how proud he is to have married a Carolina girl, how their family shares North Carolina’s values, and expounded on his father’s case for the presidency in his race against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.”I married [a North Carolinian]; she went to NC State, her family has been here for eternity,” Eric said of Lara. “I think North Carolina has many of our same values. Family values, you know let’s start there, it’s huge in this state. It’s a very patriotic state; it believes in American values and I think in many places we’ve gotten away from that, which is, quite frankly, sad.”On North Carolina as a success story:”North Carolina has been an amazing place. It’s been a great example of success as a state. I remember I started coming here in 2005, 2006 for business and if you look at the growth, if you look at the growth of Charlotte, if you look at the growth of the airports, and if you look at the growth of Mooresville and so many of the communities, and just North Carolina in general, it’s done phenomenally, phenomenally well.”Why did they do that? On a relative basis they kept taxes low, they kept regulation in check, they were very pro-business, they were pro-good economy. They made a lot of good decisions; they invest in their airports, they invest in their infrastructure.”North Carolina just did it right. A good pro-growth strategy and everything else. North Carolina is a great success story and I think it’s only second or third to Florida in terms of retirees coming into the state and so many other factors. They have an amazing success story to tell.”On sticking to the issues amid a gaffe-addicted media:”A lot of the media coverage is blatantly biased. When my father talks about, you know, Obama creating ISIS, it’s not that he literally went out and created the organizational documents for ISIS; it’s that the policies he had destabilized the entire Middle East.”A comment like [the second amendment remark] is just taken so out of context. You know, the second amendment, there’s no bigger second amendment family in the world than us. I’m a competitive shooter, it’s a big hobby of mine, it’s something we care about deeply. His comment was, hey, the second amendment people can make a difference, you know, let your voices be heard, but again that’s taken out of context.”Can you ever completely stifle that? No. People take comments, they chop a little sentence, they take things out of context all the time, meanwhile everybody knew exactly what they meant. In a certain way you’re going to have the leftist media, you’re going to have the rightist media, but I think issues will matter at the end of the day.”On Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton:”I’m not a politician and I have no plans to ever get in to politics, but as an ordinary business guy I just find the actions [Clinton] atrocious. You have a job; you’re supposed to be working for the American people, not lining your own pockets. You see countries like Saudi Arabia, which are the worst women’s rights offenders of any country in the world, giving Hillary Clinton $35 million and then getting weapons deals two weeks later that had to be approved by the State Department.”It’s not just the corruption; it’s also the level of thinking. Any administration that can give $150 billion to one of our biggest enemies — you know Iran is obviously pursuing nuclear arms, they don’t like our way of life, don’t like Western culture — you have to scratch your head and say ‘Really?’ And then you have [Secretary of State] John Kerry come out two weeks later and says we know some of those funds will be used against us in the war on terror.”On “Never Trump” and “The Establishment”:”I don’t know that they do [matter in a close race,]” Eric said about Republicans refusing to support Trump. “I look in at some of those people being part of the problem we have in the U.S. I think there are people out there who would rather see my father lose and have Hillary win, even though she’s not part of their own party, because it benefits their own interests. It means they’ll have another cushy job in Washington for a bunch of years, and that’s not right for the country, it’s not going to help the country, but it’s right for themselves.”There’s tremendous selfish intent among the marble halls of Washington, D.C. You see the lobbyists, you see the special interest dollars. People like having those nice big offices overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue and many of them aren’t willing to sacrifice that way of life and so they’ll get in the way of the process just to benefit themselves.”On why he thinks his father is the best choice for voters in November:”My father doesn’t need this job. I think I opened with that in my [Republican National Convention] speech, he doesn’t need this job. We have an amazing company; we have a lot of assets just like [Trump National Charlotte]; we have a great family, we have a great life.”What he’s doing is a very, very hard thing. You know, you get beat up by the media every single day, right, wrong or indifferent. It’s time consuming, you’re on seven days a week, you’re always getting attacked by somebody, but he cares deeply about this country. This country has given my father everything he has. This is his way of giving back to the American people.”Listen, he’s going to get hit by the media, and if you can’t, by the way, you shouldn’t run for president because that obviously part of a presidential race. Some of it will be very, very unfair, and I think you’ve seen many examples of that. Some of it might even be right, and I think he’d be the first to admit that, but at the end of the day this comes back to America first and putting America first again, being smart, utilizing some common sense, actually having people work for the American people as opposed to working for themselves.”People said that this was the best Republican field ever in the history of our country. So, he got the most votes with the biggest field, with probably the most talent in that field than ever before. So what does that say? It says that America likes the message, believes in the message, and is motivated by the message.”