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Trump: If I say I should be on Mt. Rushmore, 'I will end up with such bad publicity'
President Trump is clearly sensitive to the optics of saying he should be on Mount Rushmore.
"If I answer that question, 'Yes,' I will end up with such bad publicity," Trump told The Hill on Monday in an exclusive interview, when asked if his head should be carved among the giant granite sculpture of past presidents featured at the famed landmark.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) said in a 2018 interview that Trump once told her it was his "dream" to be featured beside former presidents Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
"I said, 'Mr. President, you should come to South Dakota sometime. We have Mount Rushmore,' " Noem recalled telling Trump during a visit in the Oval Office.
"And he goes, 'Do you know it's my dream to have my face on Mount Rushmore?' " Noem continued. "I started laughing. He wasn't laughing, so he was totally serious."
At a 2017 rally, Trump quipped to cheers from the crowd, "I'd ask whether or not you think I will someday be on Mount Rushmore."
"But, no - here's the problem," Trump said. "If I did it joking, totally joking, having fun, the fake news media will say, 'He believes he should be on Mount Rushmore!"
In his interview with The Hill, Trump credited himself with getting a "tremendous fireworks" display approved for July 4 at the South Dakota site. The return of the Independence Day fireworks at Mount Rushmore was announced last month by Noem.
"Nobody's been able to figure out why, but it was a very strong no," Trump said, of the reason the fireworks show had ended in 2009. "They didn't have fireworks because of, I don't know, I think they thought ... the stone was gonna catch on fire. That doesn't happen, right?" Trump said. "And I got it approved starting next season."
The fireworks show had ended a decade ago due to concerns over a pine beetle infestation in the Black Hills National Forest. In her announcement last month, Noem said the forest had gained strength and that pyrotechnic advancements would help ensure a safe fireworks display.
Trump said Monday he greatly admires Mount Rushmore, telling The Hill he has "a lot of respect" for the monument.