Here's the man behind Trump's high-octane Twitter account
31 May 2016, 17:07
Washington – Peter Costanzo is the man who helped turn Donald
Trump into @RealDonaldTrump.
That, of course, is Trump's Twitter account – a high-octane portal
for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee to pump out insults, political
attacks and self-promotion to more than 8 million followers. But the
billionaire's foray into the world of social media began with a much simpler
purpose, yet one that's still distinctively Trump: making money.
Costanzo crossed paths with Trump in 2009 when he was working as
online marketing director for the publishing company putting out the
businessman's book, "Think Like a Champion." Twitter was still in its
infancy at the time. But Costanzo saw the 140-character-per-message platform as
a new tool that the real estate mogul could use to boost sales and reach a
He was given seven minutes to make his pitch to Trump — "Not
five minutes, not 10," Constanzo said — in a boardroom at Trump Tower in
Manhattan that appeared to be the same one used on Trump's reality television
Trump liked what he heard.
"I said, 'Let's call you @RealDonaldTrump — you're the real
Donald Trump,'" Costanzo said. "He thought about it for a minute and
said, 'I like it. Let's do it.'"
Costanzo would spend the next several months helping coordinate
Trump's Twitter account, as well as his official Facebook page, often sending
out messages for his famous client. He credited Trump with being an early
adopter of the service and says he believes Trump understood it’s potential.
"He seemed very excited about the idea of being able to reach
people so directly," Costanzo said. "I think he immediately got
Trump's office confirmed the outlines of Costanzo's account.
Costanzo — a 51-year-old who goes by @PeterCostanzo on Twitter — now works as
digital and archival publishing manager for The Associated Press, a position
that is separate from the news department.
While Costanzo's moniker for Trump on Twitter may have survived,
the early days of the businessman's account bear little resemblance to the
current iteration, which frequently drives news in the White House race.
During the roughly eight months when Costanzo was in charge of the
burgeoning Trump Twitter account, each missive was carefully crafted by the
publishing company or the businessman's office. Trump got final approval before
Costanzo pressed "Tweet."
Most of the messages were quotations from the book, a collection
of Trump lessons on life and business. "My persona will never be that of a
wallflower — I'd rather build walls than cling to them," read one early
Sometimes Trump would send word through an associate that he
wanted to offer a holiday greeting. His retweets were rare then.
Now, Trump starts firing off messages early in the morning and
often continues past midnight. He'll shout out tweets for aides to type during
the day and take over himself at night. Spelling and grammar are sometimes
amiss, and exclamation points are plentiful.
Trump frequently retweets messages from other people's accounts,
something he's admitted "gets me in trouble." He faced particular
criticism for retweeting an unflattering photo of former rival Ted Cruz's wife
and has since said he wished he hadn't done that.
Costanzo, who no longer has any role with Trump's Twitter account
or books, says he's marvelled at the following his most famous client has built
on social media. Asked whether he had any Twitter advice for Trump now,
Costanzo said, "He seems to be doing just fine without me."