She really likes Trump, but she’s still not voting for him.
Last week, former “Apprentice” contestant Andrea Lake posted this photo to her personal Facebook page:
There she is, grinning side-by-side with our Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump.
The full caption reads:
“I would like to personally know the President of the United States. Not just a handshake & a photo, but actually know them. So…I kinda think it speaks volumes that I personally know Donald Trump, and would not vote for him. And, in fact, did not vote for him. I voted early. For Hillary. In a swing state #ImWithHer”
A successful entrepreneur, Lake competed in the fifth season of “The Apprentice” in 2006. One of the show’s challenge rewards she remembers fondly was a lunch with Trump. As a successful businesswoman who started 14 companies (the first at age 18), she couldn’t wait to get face time with the enterprise mogul.
During that lunch, Lake sat across the table from a man she describes as “shockingly funny and exceedingly charismatic.” They bonded over their business acumen and shared dry sense of humor. She decided then, she genuinely liked him—so much so, even today she’d happily invite him to her house for dinner.
Now, 10 years later, Lake is watching her old reality-show boss run for President of the United States. And she’s horrified.
“To think that anyone would think he’s capable of running our country is ludicrous and frankly, kind of heartbreaking,” she said.
The man Lake looked up to as a mentor?—?the man who inspired her with his success in commerce?—?is positioning himself to take on a role for which he is totally unsuited.
It’s like watching someone you admire try out for the Broadway production of “CATS” and actively rooting against them. Except the play is “Democracy” and the stage is the future of our country.
“Donald is saying really dangerous things: like elections are easy to rig, the media can’t be trusted, the FBI is corrupt, Muslims should be banned, we should go after the families of terrorists, Hillary should be in jail,” she said. “These really inflammatory remarks question and degrade the entire foundation of our country.”
But those insights aren’t just those of someone who personally knows Trump. Over the past 16 months, the world has watched him flaunt his intolerance and short fuse over and over, on an international level. Many of us have imagined the man who’s baited by a tweet having access to nuclear weapons. Or a man with no political experience, who insinuates democracy isn’t real, attempting to address, for example, police brutality.
“What’s weird to me is that it’s so incredibly clear to me. Everything that I’m bothered by are things that are very transparent,” Lake said.
If you’re wondering what we were wondering when we chatted with Lake, the answer is no: She didn’t personally experience Trump’s crass “locker room” persona—she insists he treated her with nothing but respect. But in the thread of her Facebook post, Lake shared something very telling.
“Donald shuffles women into two categories: ones he respects and ones he sees as sex objects. I fell into the former.”
“Though ones who fell in the latter category do not surprise me and I’m sorry that happened to them.”
When we asked Lake if Trump’s on-camera reality TV persona bore any similarity to the way he’s behaved during this campaign, she responded with a resounding yes.
“He is so practiced at being on television,” she said. “He knows if he continuously speaks in soundbites people will pick up on it, and with virtually no additional inquiry into whether or not it’s true.”
During filming, Lake noticed Trump adept at focusing on the interests and concerns of his audience and, like a chameleon, adapting himself to them. “I think that’s exactly what he’s doing en masse, with his voting base,” she said.
Though “The Apprentice”-era Trump impressed Lake with his charm and shrewd business sense, his bullying tendencies asserted themselves even then. Lake recalls a moment when Trump attacked a contestant.
“He [Trump] snapped at him. He said, ‘What makes you think I want to hear what you have to say right now?’” Lake remembered. “If he likes you, then it’s great. But if he doesn’t?—?just get out of the room.”
It’s for this reason that, until recently, Lake remained quiet about her feelings. She was afraid.
“He’s brutal in the way that he attacks people that speak against him,” Lake said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if I received a mean tweet after this.”
Lake laughed, “But I’ve promised my friends that if he does mean tweet me, I’m going to make a sticker out of it.”
Lake’s choice to be #withher is driven by rational, informed opinions. She’s seen Trump in a way most of us haven’t?—?candidly at lunch and behind the scenes on a reality TV show. But no matter how likable your friend is, that doesn’t mean they’re fit to be the leader of a nation.