Flawed poll on Trump cited in Clinton presidential papers

AP News
|
Posted: Apr 12, 2016 7:27 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — A rigged public opinion poll on Donald Trump and how President Bill Clinton planned to answer questions 17 years ago about the billionaire's presidential aspirations were among the details included in papers released Tuesday by the Clinton Presidential Library.

The documents— about 200 pages not including those contained in a signed copy of Trump's book, "The Art of the Deal"— reveal little about the personal interactions between the GOP front-runner and Bill and Hillary Clinton. But the papers contain a few nuggets that add to the ever-growing documentation of another very public relationship — that of opinion polls and Trump.

In March 1993, two Clinton aides wrote up talking points detailing several problems identified by the National Council on Public Polls with a survey being done by former third-party presidential candidate Ross Perot. Perot's poll attempted to gauge the opinions of millions of American through mailed-in questionnaires published in TV Guide and other publications.

Among the examples of flawed polling cited by the council and outlined in the memo was a 1990 USA Today call-in survey about Trump, in which "three out of every four calls were traced to Trump associates."

According to USA Today articles from the time, the newspaper had asked readers to call a 1-900 number, pay 50 cents and say whether they agreed with two statements: either "Donald Trump symbolizes what makes the USA a great country" or "Donald Trump symbolizes the things that are wrong with this country."

The newspaper initially reported that the majority of about 6,400 callers said they agreed with the positive statement about Trump. But a month later, the newspaper published a follow-up article detailing how Cincinnati businessman Carl H. Lindner had manipulated the poll in Trump's favor by flooding the line with auto-dialed calls.

The newspaper reported that when the poll first came out, Trump said he was greatly honored by the results. After hearing of Lindner's actions, "a spokesman said this week that Trump was 'honored that someone should take the time' to make all of those calls," the article said.

In addition to the White House memo on the poll, the records released on the library's website included briefing memos from 1999 in which Clinton aides prepared the president to address a question about the presidential aspirations of Trump and actors Warren Beatty and Cybil Shepherd and whether Clinton had contributed to a trivialization of the office.

The memo encouraged Clinton to blame the political press, and note: "I have the utmost confidence in the American people to sort out the wheat from the chaff. Regardless of who runs for president or how they're covered, the public eventually sees through all the smoke and mirrors. And they, after all, have the ultimate power at the ballot box."

Also among the documents were notations of holiday cards, visits to White House functions, a signed copy of Trump's book "The Art of the Deal," sent to close Clinton aide Mark Middleton, and a 2000 Clinton-Trump photo op at the Trump Tower in New York City. The library also withheld a handful of documents, citing privacy.

___

Associated Press writers Ted Bridis and Jeff Horwitz contributed to this report.

___

Follow Chad Day on Twitter: https://twitter.com/chadsday