The battle for the White House is about as hot as it can get with just 14 days to go. And while no one, pollster or pundit, knows how it will turn out, it does appear Trump may have cornered some boater blocs.
Witness the boat parades waving mostly Trump flags in cities from San Diego to Miami. They’ve been dubbed “Trumptillas.”
Recently in Clearwater, Fla., an estimated 2,000 boats flying Trump flags paraded to reportedly celebrate the president's 74th birthday while also attempting to set a Guinness World Record, the ultimate keeper of record-breaking facts. There’s no indication the boat parade has made it.
But these scenes beg a fun question: are boats and American presidents synonymous? Sometimes.
The truth is some presidents were boaters. Even some wannabe presidents might be called boaters — well, maybe not. Remember Democratic contender Gary Hart and his famous romp with Donna Rice aboard Money Business? That sunk his political aspirations.
John Kerry lost a presidential bid in 2004 after his military service during the Vietnam War came under fire — which gave birth to the term “swiftboating.”
And, it’s reported the closest candidate Al Gore got to being a boater was when he once campaigned on a Mississippi River steamboat blaring the song “Brown Sugar.” He didn’t make it either.
On the other hand, George H. W. Bush became legend with boaters and the news media as he frequently fished from his Intrepid Fidelity off Maine. There was also no question President John F. Kennedy was an accomplished sailor, frequently seen plying the waters off Hyannis Port in Victura with Jackie crewing. Of course, Kennedy was also a nautical American hero, having skippered PT109 and more in the Pacific during WWII.
Then there was the grand Trumpy-designed, 104-foot, presidential yacht Sequoia. She was actually built for a Texas oil man in 1925 for about $200,000, purchased by the government 6 years later (1931) and remained the presidential yacht for eight presidents. The "floating White House," served until 1977 for presidents Herbert Hoover through Gerald Ford.
Hoover boarded Sequoia often. He was an avid angler and loved to fish mostly in Florida and usually on friend’s boats. But as soon as the newly christened Sequoia was available, he sailed on her to Florida for a sportfishing expedition.
Indeed, he and Mrs. Hoover often cruised on Sequoia, notably spending both a Christmas and New Year’s aboard as part of another 10-day fishing trip along the coasts of Georgia and Florida.
Franklin D. Roosevelt took Sequoia on more than fifty recorded outings over two years. An elevator was installed to enable access for the polo-stricken president who, like Hoover before him, liked to fish aboard the yacht.
LBJ didn’t use Sequoia very much, but he ordered the floor of the shower lowered to accommodate his six-foot-four frame. He also replaced FDR's elevator with a wet bar. But records indicate Richard Nixon was the most avid sailor of Sequoia, logging 88 cruises while in the office of President, albeit mostly along the Potomac and often with foreign dignitaries on board.
So, were all these Presidents boaters? You decide.
One president who clearly was not — Jimmy Carter!
He ceremoniously auctioned off Sequoia for $236,000, claiming it was an example of wasted taxpayer money (her annual maintenance budget was $800,000). It brought to an end the age of the American presidential yacht. Sequoia is reportedly in bad shape in a Virginia shipyard following protracted legal ownership battles.
Okay, so in today’s presidential sweepstakes, what about Donald J. Trump and Joe Biden, you ask? Well, there is no indication candidate Biden goes boating – as one pundit puts it: “It’s hard to boat in your basement!”
For Trump, there’s no indication he has been taking any time to enjoy the boating lifestyle, either. After all, water hazards on golf courses don’t make great waterways. However, you may decide Trump was a boater in the past, even though some current reports may claim he doesn’t care for boats or the sun!
Back in 1987, he did buy a 280-footer for a reported $30 million. He named it, what else, Trump Princess. It boasted a helipad and swimming pool but when he later ran into financial problems with his casinos, the yacht was gone in ’91.
So, the only thing that seems certain about the upcoming election is we won’t see a boater in the White House for the next four years.
I’m Norm Schultz, and I approved this blog.