Real estate and entertainment mogul Donald Trump provided a preview Friday of what a Trump-for-governor campaign might look like.
At a GOP benefit event in upstate New York, the largest Republican fundraiser in that area’s history, he called New York’s new gun control laws a disaster, criticized Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s tax policies for businesses, and supported fracking for natural gas.
Trump was the featured speaker at the $100-per-person event held by the Erie County Republican Party that drew more than 600 people, a record crowd for the county party.
But he came no closer to committing to challenge Cuomo, repeating his oft-told condition that he’ll only run if the state’s Republican Party rallies behind him and he faces no challengers for the nomination.
“You can’t have people going in, knocking … each other in a primary, spending millions of dollars and then someone comes out wounded and limping,” he said.
Rob Astorino, an official in suburban Westchester County, is favored by some in the GOP establishment and has been traveling around the state talking to potential supporters.
“If they can’t unify, I have other things to do,” Trump told reporters after his address.
For many in the crowd, the well-known Trump represents the Republicans’ best chance at defeating Cuomo.
“It would definitely be the battle of the titans,” said Steve Barnhoorn, of Honeoye. “He’s probably the only one that could beat him. He’s got the money, he’s got the name recognition and he’s got the moxie.”
Trump scored points with gun-owners and other opponents of New York’s new gun law, calling the SAFE Act the “Un-safe act.”
Trump called the governor’s plan to exempt new businesses from taxes “stupid.”
“What about all the people that are up here with businesses that are being killed?” he said.
Under Cuomo’s “tax-free” program for businesses, companies such as startups spun from university research and development could apply to stay in New York or come to the state to locate on or near college campuses.
Trump also said that fracking, which is currently banned in New York, would solve the state’s debt.
“I believe that if I ran and if I won, we would become one of the great energy capitals of this world,” he said.
Outside the restaurant, Brian Krawczyk, a SAFE act opponent, said he opposed Cuomo but had reservations about Trump.
“It could,” he said, “turn into a bit of a circus.”