Trump touts steaks, water, wine in defence of his business record

JUPITER, Fla. -- After winning the day's two biggest prizes in the Republican race for president, Donald Trump was in the mood to celebrate.

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No, not his wins in Michigan and Mississippi. The front-runner for the GOP nomination wanted to celebrate his skill selling things to eat and drink, among other things, defending business ventures that have increasingly come under attack in ads and in debates.

Before Trump's arrival at a news conference at his golf course in Jupiter, Florida, club staff set up displays of Trump-branded products on either side of his podium. There were bottles of Trump red, white and rose wine, cases of Trump water and two butcher blocks heaping with stacks of giant, well-marbled "Trump Steaks."

And it wasn't long after Trump started that he moved past Tuesday night's election results and began to focus on the foodstuffs on display.

"I brought some things up because, he said, 'Water company is gone.' I said, 'It is?' I didn't know that," Trump said.

Trump was referring to a scathing speech delivered last week by 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who sought to undermine Trump's success in this year's campaign by outlining what he called the billionaire's business failures.

"Whatever happened to Trump Airlines? How about Trump University? And then there's Trump Magazine and Trump Vodka and Trump Steaks, and Trump Mortgage?" said Romney. "A business genius he is not."

Romney didn't make reference to Trump's defunct bottled water company, Trump Ice, in his remarks. But Trump nonetheless gestured to cases of Trump-branded "Natural Spring Water," bottles of which are available at his hotels and golf clubs.

"He talked about the water company. Well, there's the water company. I mean, we sell water. And we have water, and it's a very successful, you know, it's a private little water company, and I supply the water for all my places, and it's good. But it's very good," Trump said.

Trump also touted a long list of his other assets, including the Trump International Golf Club in Jupiter, where friends and club members had gathered for the event. He stressed that he owns it and several other clubs outright, and they're all debt-free.

Trump then moved onto the steaks.

"Trump steaks, where are the steaks? Do we have the steaks?" he said. "We have Trump steaks. And by the way, you want to take one, we charge you about, what, 50 bucks a steak?"

But you can't buy "Trump Steaks," not anymore. The ones Romney mentioned in his speech were sold exclusively by The Sharper Image stores in 2007, in a venture that quickly fizzled.

A page on the company's website now reads, "Unfortunately, Trump Steaks are no longer available, but their legacy endures. And, whether you think Donald Trump's candidacy is real steak or just sizzle, we hope you'll enjoy this blast from the past."

A spokeswoman for Trump's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the labels on the steaks displayed Tuesday night appeared to match those of a company called Bush Brothers. A club staff member said that's the butcher that supplies the club.

Trump also showed off a copy of Trump Magazine, which is distributed at clubs and isn't the same as the glossy magazine that folded in 2009. He also repeatedly defended his Trump University business seminars, which are the subject of several lawsuits.

"So I wanted to put that to rest: So you have the water, you have the steaks, you have the airline that I sold. I mean, what's wrong with selling?" he said. "Every once in a while you can sell something. You have the wines and all of that. And Trump University, we're going to start it up as soon as I win the lawsuit."


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