Billionaire Donald Trump called in to the "Today" show on Friday to defend himself after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel slammed a huge sign spelling out the tycoon’s name on the side of a city skyscraper.
Emanuel said the 20-foot T-R-U-M-P sign on the 96-story Trump International Hotel & Tower along the Chicago River was "tasteless."
During a phone interview with host Matt Lauer on the NBC morning show, Trump said "everyone loves" the sign, which is 200 feet off the ground.
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"Frankly, I will tell you that we're getting tweets and letters and phone calls,'' the real estate mogul said over the phone. "We have people that just love it.
"We are getting calls by the literally hundreds and thousands, including tweets on Twitter that people just love it."
Blaming the brouhaha on "a third-rate architectural critic," Trump added, "He was gone for a long period of time. Most people thought he got fired. All of a sudden he re-emerges and to get a little publicity, he started this campaign."
He was referring to Blair Kamin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning architectural critic for the Chicago Tribune who had recently spent nearly a year on hiatus while completing a prestigious Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University.
"If this sign was in Atlantic City or Las Vegas, nobody would care," said Kamin, according to Fox News.
"But it is in Chicago, and in a part of Chicago full of great buildings from the 1920s to the 1960s and onward. None of the other towers have signs on them."
His criticism was echoed by Emanuel via his spokeswoman Kelley Quinn. "Mayor Emanuel believes this is an architecturally tasteful building scarred by an architecturally tasteless sign," she said.
Trump pointed out he had approval from both the city zoning administrator and the City Council when he first applied for planning permission.
Quinn, however, said that although the sign does meet the provisions of the development ordinance, the mayor is studying his options to see if it can be taken down.
Fox News noted that several tall buildings in the city have massive banners near ground level, but none of them are high above street level like Trump’s.
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