NEW YORK (AFP) — On the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are arch rivals flinging dirt at each other. But in real life, they were acquaintances, even friends — far from daggers drawn.
When Clinton was New York senator from 2001 to 2009, Trump was the flamboyant real estate tycoon and reality TV star who built his fortune in Manhattan: they moved in the same elite circles that mixed business, politics and celebrity.
Trump saw qualities in Clinton and donated to her campaign. She was a guest at his third marriage in Palm Beach, Florida in January 2005.
Bill Clinton, who had fascinated Trump for years, was also at the sumptuous reception for 400 guests at Mar-a-Lago, the billionaire’s glittering home where Michael Jackson spent his honeymoon with Lisa Marie Presley.
Trump’s ties to the Clintons go back to Bill’s presidency from 1993 to 2001. The presidential library is set this week to release around 500 pages of documents on Trump, including “birthday notes” sent from Clinton to Trump and details about Trump invitations to the White House, according to the National Archives.
In 2001, when the Clintons left the White House, Trump suggested that they set up home in one of the Trump skyscrapers in Manhattan, although the Clintons had bought a home in Chappaqua some years before.
In 2007, Trump also said that he hoped Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee for president.
In July 2008, photos emerged showing the former president playing golf with Trump, and former New York mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani on a course owned by Trump near the Clinton home in Chappaqua, upstate New York.
In 2012 Trump praised Hillary Clinton as “a terrific woman.”
“I am biased because I have known her for years. I live in New York. She lives in New York. I really like her and her husband both a lot,” he said on Fox News.
But the 2016 campaign has turned them into enemies. Trump routinely slams Clinton as “the worst secretary of state in the history of the United States.” Clinton has called him a “racist” and a “misogynist” and accuses him of dividing the country.
If the Clintons were at Trump’s wedding, it was because he asked them to attend after donating to the Clinton Foundation, he told the first televised Republican debate last August.
“With Hillary Clinton I said ‘be at my wedding’ and she came to my wedding,” he said. “You know why? She had no choice because I gave,” he added.
“I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And you know what? When I need something from them, two years later, three years later, I call them, and they are there for me.”
In the 2000s, Trump donated $4,100 to Clinton’s campaign for the Senate, according to Politifact. He also gave more than $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation.
Clinton has lost no time distancing herself from the man who has insulted Mexicans, women and called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.
“I didn’t know him that well,” she said in August. “I thought it would be fun to go to his wedding because it’s always entertaining. Now that he’s running for president, it’s a little more troubling,” she added.
“He was basically a Democrat before he was a Republican,” she said in January in Iowa. “He was supportive of Democrats and supportive of a lot of causes I care about and people I knew cared about.”
But Clinton-Trump relations went beyond the realm of purely business and politics. Their daughters, Chelsea and Ivanka, 36 and 34 years old respectively have also been friends.
They were introduced by their husbands and live close to each other in Manhattan. They are both young mothers and again move in similar circles. In the September edition of People magazine, Chelsea praised Ivanka.
“I do believe that friendship is more important than politics,” she said. “I’m really grateful that Ivanka’s my friend.”
But in a campaign where personal attacks have become the norm, the young women — who have both stumped with their parents — have reportedly kept a distance.
Clinton meanwhile insists she was never friends with the brash billionaire.
“We were not friends,” she told People magazine.