WASHINGTON — Donald Trump spent a lifetime putting his name on everything from steaks to skyscrapers to stimulus checks, but now, the former president appears to be replacing the gold-plated surname with a number: 45.
Last week, the 45th president launched his new official website, 45Office.com, a URL unlike those of his predecessors, who used their names for their web addresses.
Trump’s shift from his name to his digits has been across his political properties.
His PAC can be accessed at SaveAmerica45.com. His White House’s old tweets can be found at @WhiteHouse45. And when his attorney Bruce Castor signed on to represent him in his second impeachment case, he said, “I consider it a privilege to represent the 45th president.'”
Like Prince changing his name to a symbol, Trump is defying convention. Former presidents typically use their numbers only as a shibboleth among insiders and friends. The only other president to regularly use Twitter, Barack Obama, has his old tweets archived at @ObamaWhiteHouse.
“He was a ‘different’ type of candidate and president and now he is a ‘different’ type of former president — one with a global brand to manage (as well as prospects to run again in 2024),” John Boyd, a corporate consultant who works with the real estate industry, said in an email.
Trump’s 45 Office didn’t respond to requests for comment. People who think a lot about corporate and political branding say it’s unlikely that he made the decision lightly.
Branding is Trump’s business — even Bill Clinton called him a “master brander” — and he’s so protective of his name that one of his attorneys sent threatening letters demanding that the Republican National Committee and other GOP groups stop using his likeness in fundraising pitches (they refused).
“They can never take that number away from him,” said Sam Nunberg, who was one of Trump’s early political advisers before they parted ways. “Just psychologically, when you say President [Jimmy] Carter or you say President George H.W. Bush, you think ‘one-term president.’ But if you put the number, 45th president, the connection doesn’t come that fluidly.”
It also may help him avoid a reminder of being a loser.
Official communications from Trump, who refused to concede the 2020 election and falsely led supporters to believe he might overturn its results right up until Inauguration Day, never refer to him as the “former” president — he is always the “45th President of the United States of America.”
That’s not an accident, said David Johnson, a corporate branding consultant in Atlanta, who added it helps to “continue his myth that he is still the President of the United States and reinforce that message with his followers.”
Trump’s new website, 45Office.com, was created Jan. 12, less than a week after Trump supporters rioted at the Capitol to try to stop the counting of electoral votes in President Joe Biden’s victory, according to internet records.
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