Take John Robbins. When the retired Army officer heard Trump, in a music-filled tent, talk of putting up the tallest building in Tampa, Florida, he wanted in—“because of the Trump name.” But Robbins lost half his $150,000 down payment when the condo project went bankrupt and was “floored” to learn that Trump had merely licensed his gold-plated moniker: “I just don’t see Trump fitting the role of commander in chief. Somebody has to stand up to Mr. Trump.”

Hamed Hoshyarsar invested $54,000 in a condo at the Trump Ocean Resort Baja for one reason: He was a fan of The Apprentice. He lost every dime when the project was never built. “I want to throw up every time I see him,” says the Los Angeles accountant. “I see all these people talking about him being president, and I would never vote for that guy.” Trump, who exudes a blustery charm, doesn’t miss a beat. “What about the 50 deals that worked out great—are you going to cover that, too?” he asks me. Let the record show he has built some fabulous properties—but has also filed for corporate bankruptcy four times, most recently with his casino unit. “I do play with the bankruptcy laws—they’re very good for me” as a way of cutting debt, Trump says.