But if Trump sows chaos, it is tightly controlled chaos. The bluster and put-downs are part of a meticulously calculated strategy by a surprisingly disciplined front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. Trump is the rare first-time candidate whose mastery of basic political skills seems unmatched by most, if not all, of his rivals in a crowded Republican field.
Trump’s history as a builder of major Manhattan real estate projects schooled him in the real-world give-and-take of politics at a level where enormous amounts of money and power are at stake. For New York developers whose business model depends on taxpayer subsidies, a keen understanding of how governors and mayors operate can make or break a real estate empire.
Trump’s father, Fred Trump, was a major New York City developer with deep ties to elected officials. In the 1970s, Donald Trump began forging his own ties with politicians — among them Mayor Ed Koch and Gov. Hugh Carey — as he sought tax breaks on midtown high-rise projects with a higher profile than anything his father had built.
Bill Cunningham, a veteran New York political operative, said the city’s big developers must weather bad press, but stay focused on their goals as they battle unions, contractors, public agencies, environmental groups and property owners who refuse to sell their land.
“You learn to take a lot of hits and keep on going, and that’s Donald Trump,” Cunningham said.