Trump enjoys motivational speaking tour


Donald Trump has found a new way to milk his ex-presidency — and test another — by hitting the lucrative motivational speaking circuit with more fervor than any active American politician in history.

Why is this important: It’s a way to build support for a possible 2024 presidential bid while potentially pocketing significant speaking fees as many of his iconic properties struggle.

What is happening: At events hosted by an organization called the American Freedom Tour, Trump draws arena-sized crowds resembling his campaign rallies.

  • It is run by private individuals and, according to the organisers, it is attracting enormous interest from the public.
  • Trump has everything to gain from both sides. He’s headlining a rally-like event with a third party footing the bill, and is set to receive a big payout for his time.
  • AFT founder Chris Widener told Axios that “most of our speakers receive honoraria for the event,” but he declined to name Trump’s honorarium.
  • A Trump spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.

Trump will make his next stop on the tour in Austin on Saturday. According to the AFT website, there are a dozen different tariff options, each with its own level of access.

  • Ticket prices start at $9, for the Satellite tier. This includes a place in an additional room on site to watch the program on a television screen.
  • Presidential-level tickets cost $4,995. This includes early access to the event site, admission to a reception and photo op with Trump’s son, Don Jr., as well as premium seats to watch Trump speak in person.
  • No price is shown for the higher Patriot level. Interested parties are welcome to email for more information. This level includes a panel discussion and photo op with former President Trump himself and a panel discussion with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
  • Trump has previously headlined AFT events in Houston and Sunrise, Fla., and is booked for one in Memphis next month. Other AFT events this year have featured MAGA stars including Don Jr., Pompeo, Candace Owens and Dinesh D’Souza.

Between the lines: Motivational speaking is a roughly $2 billion a year industry that affects hundreds of thousands of Americans. But he’s caught little attention from famous politicians – at least while they’re still in the political fray.

The backstory: Widener leads the AFT with Brian Forte. Both are veterans of the motivational speaking industry. Widener also ran as a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Washington State in 2010.

  • Forte, chief executive of AFT, also runs a seminar company called Get Motivated. This company promoted AFT events, and its IT director is listed in disclosure information for the more than $500,000 in digital ads AFT ran to promote these events.
  • Widener said the two are separate entities. “I brought the idea for the American Freedom Tour to Brian Forte, given his decades of organizing amazing Get Motivated events across the country,” he told Axios in an email. mail.

Widener said the AFT is a commercial enterprisenot political.

  • “The American Freedom Tour is not a Republican-aligned event or a Trump-aligned operation,” he said. But “President Trump and Donald Trump Jr. are incredible speakers and we’re happy to have them on our tour.”
  • The message of the tour, he said, is “Faith, family, finances and freedom”.

Forte spent 30 years in the field of motivational speeches and boasts of having participated in interviews with every former president since Gerald Ford, with the exception of Barack Obama.

  • He frequently speaks himself at Get Motivated events and was due to join Trump in billing for an event in Nashville next month. This event has since been cancelled.
  • Forte’s scheduled conference was on the theme of “success” despite her own financial history. It filed for bankruptcy in 2018, records show.
  • “He didn’t complete the process. He was never bankrupt,” said AFT spokesman Larry Ward, a veteran Republican media consultant. A $200,000 tax lien filed against Forte by the IRS late last year “is being resolved,” Ward said.

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