“Mind your step Mr T,” said one as the boss swept into the room at Robert Gordon University. “Oh, it’s not Mr any more,” said the tycoon, smiling.
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The American tycoon businessman and property developer became officially entitled to use the title “Doctor” yesterday when he was presented with a degree in business administration by Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen in honour of his “business acumen”.
After picking up the honorary title, Mr/Dr Trump, whose company is controversially building a golf course on the Menie dunes in Aberdeenshire, went outside and waved the scroll around.
However, despite saying what a great honour it was to have the title of Doctor bestowed upon him, he was soon suggesting that a somewhat more prestigious honorific would perhaps be more fitting.
“A lot of people have asked me to run for President,” he said, “and until recently I would have no interest but someone has to do something. Obama is having a hard time. The US is a great country but it’s not doing very well. It should be doing much better and with proper leadership it would do unbelievably well.”
Despite all that, he said, he has not made a final decision on whether to run. Asked if Sarah Palin would make a good running mate, he just smiled.
Earlier, in his acceptance speech, Mr Trump said his Scots mother, Mary MacLeod Trump, would have been very proud of him and that the secret to his success was never to give up.
“You can really never, ever give up,” he said. “We are doing something, a little £750 million development – has anybody heard about this? We never gave up. There were times when we probably should have given up – most people would have.”
The university’s chancellor, Sir Ian Wood, said the resort would put Scotland on the world golfing map, and that protesters were nothing but a vocal minority.
The protests have been led by the Tripping Up Trump group, which is supporting a number of landowners who have refused to sell up. They want to stop Aberdeenshire Council from serving compulsory purchase orders on families who own land on the site.
Mr Trump said he was still no closer to resolving the dispute with the householders. “We’ve tried to be very nice,” he said.
He insisted that despite those problems, the project is on schedule. “It’s even coming out better than anything we imagined, even in our wildest dreams.”
On the question of the protests over his honorary degree in the face of the controversy, Mr Trump was dismissive. He said he had never heard of Dr David Kennedy – referring to him as “Mr” – the former principal of RGU who handed back his own honorary degree in protest at Mr Trump’s visit.
As for protestors, Mr Trump said: “I heard there was going to be a big protest today [but] nobody showed up. The last time I came in I heard there was going to be a protest ... there were three people with a dog and the person with the dog was waving.”
Protests yesterday were certainly thin, with no more than five or six campaigners as Mr Trump left the building.
John Russell, an RGU alumnus, stood on a wall and, despite a security guard trying to tear it from his hands, held up a sheet with the words “Shame On You RGU” painted on it. “Scotland’s not for sale Donald!” he shouted; “How much was your degree?” yelled another.
Mr Russell, below, said he was appalled by the honour for Mr Trump. “I can’t understand what he’s done to get it, and I can’t see what his contribution is to Scotland, or to Aberdeen,” he said.
“I’m embarrassed by my own university,” he said, shaking his head, but by then the new Dr Trump was in his SUV and heading off.