Just to be clear, I’m not voting for Donald Trump BUT, if he were to become president, he would be the 4th president I’ve met one on one.
I’m not rooting for him but I like to keep track of my close encounters of a presidential kind. Here they are in order:
- Richard Nixon — The year was 1980. Ronald Reagan had just won the presidency and, the day after Election Day, one of my editors at the Daily News sent me up to former President Richard Nixon’s townhouse on the upper east side to get his thoughts. It was a different time. Today, there would probably be a lot of press there but, back then, it was me, one other reporter and a few secret service agents. It was early in the morning and Nixon came outside on his way somewhere and stopped to shake hands and chat with me and the other reporter. We got his thoughts about the election and off he went.
- Jimmy Carter — Again, it was the 1980s. I can’t remember the year but I was covering the lower east side and housing and I wound up going to an tenement just off Tompkins Square Park that former President Jimmy Carter was helping rebuild via his Habitat for Humanity program. I climbed a half-finished staircase where I found former President Carter in work clothes and protective glasses hammering some nails. We chatted for a few moments about Habitat and off I went.
- Bill Clinton — This one was a total fluke. It was 1992 and I was coming out of a subway station at 47th/50th Street on Sixth Avenue. As I ascended to the street, candidate Bill Clinton was coming down Sixth Avenue accompanied by Ruth Messinger and a gaggle of reporters. I exited at the perfect time to intersect with him and, as a candidate, he was happy to see me. We shook hands. I said hello to Ruth who I knew from the time I covered City Hall for the Daily News and off he went.
- Donald Trump — You couldn’t cover housing in the 1980s without running into Donald Trump and indeed I did. I was working on a magazine story about former city Housing Commissioner Anthony Gliedman who had gone to work for Trump. I interviewed him in the Trump Tower as I recall and then he showed me into the office of the future presidential candidate. I admired Trump’s view of Central Park and we talked about Gliedman and housing and away I went.
So The Donald, as we used to call him, would be the 4th President I’ve met one on one and shook hands with. Do I hope for that reason he makes it? Let’s just say, I think my record is going to stand at 3….unless of course I happen to meet Hilary between now and then.