Will the real Jim-who-quit-Paris please stand up?
President Donald Trump got some chuckles this week when his trip to Paris recalled stories he's told about his good friend "Jim," who used to love visiting the City of Lights but doesn't anymore because of immigration and terrorism.
"Paris?" Jim says, as told by Trump at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February. "I don't go there anymore. Paris is no longer Paris."
Well, it turns out that the president has discovered that the French capital is actually pretty nice in spite of Jim's views: After praising French President Emmanuel Macron, the leader of the free world called the conurbation on the Seine "one of the great cities, one of the most beautiful cities in the world."
While admiring the president's perspicacity and tact, we couldn't help wondering who this "Jim" might be. Trump hasn't identified him, nor has any news organization, and the White House did not return request for comment.
To be sure, given Trump's demonstrated willingness to invent imaginary figures (see: John Barron), it's possible he doesn't exist.
Still, there are more than 5 million Jameses or Jims in the U.S., making it the nation's most popular first name, according to HowManyOfMe.com, a website that uses Census Bureau statistics. Trump's only real hint about his buddy is that he's a "very substantial guy."
So that narrows it down a bit. For example, Trump's Defense Secretary is named Jim (Mattis). He's pretty substantial. James Earl Jones, the actor, has a fine reputation, but we're not sure if people call him Jim. Jim Belushi? Jimmy Caan? We just don't know. James Stewart? No, he's dead.
Trump has used the word "Jim" 155 times since he began running for office, according to the database at Factba.se. He's mentioned Clemson University president Jim Clements and former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly in speeches and gave a shout-out to golfer Jim Herman on Twitter. He has used "Jim" on Twitter 66 times, according to the Trump Twitter Archive, and not in the context of Jim Comey. He's tweeted about the ousted FBI director 17 times but refers to him as just "Comey" or uses his full first name, James.
We took a look at data from BoardEx, a relationship mapping service managed by TheStreet, to see if there might be any clues in there. We identified three "substantial guy" Jims who could potentially fit the bill. All are tied to Trump's casino past.
There's Jim Rigot, the gaming industry veteran and former manager of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino.
Rigot spent more than 15 years of his career at the Atlantic City property, first as a shift manager and host, then as an executive vice president and finally as general manager in 2005. Rigot resigned in 2010, in a farewell email to Trump Plaza employees saying he intended to spend more time with his wife and family. "I love my job," he said.
Jim Perry is another figure from Trump's casino past who could have turned against Paris.
Trump tapped Perry to help turn around his ailing Atlantic City casinos, appointing him as CEO of Trump Entertainment Resorts soon after the company emerged from bankruptcy in 2005. As part of the reorganization, Trump had to step aside as CEO of the company.
At the time, Trump said he thought Perry and the team around him would "bring those properties up to a level they've never seen before." But the honeymoon didn't last long -- Perry was fired in 2007.
Even after his ouster, Perry apparently remained on Trump's mind. In a 2011 interview, Trump called then-Texas Governor Rick Perry, now his Energy Secretary, Jim. "I had dinner last night with Jim Perry," he said. "I was impressed with him." Possibly Rick Perry is known as "Jim" to his friends and confidantes.
Former New Jersey Governor Jim Florio has known Trump since the 1990s and served on the board of Trump Entertainment Resorts during the 2000s. The New Jersey Democrat who also spent 15 years in the House of Representatives criticized Trump during the campaign, warning his presidency would "positively endanger" the United States and regaling the audience with a tale about his business experience with Trump. But after the election he softened his tone.
"I worked with him extensively for a number of years," he said at a New Jersey conference days after Trump's surprise victory. "He's not a racist. He's not ideologically someone who's driven. He's an opportunistic pragmatist. He's been for abortion and against abortion. He's been for gun control and against gun control."
Trump, at least years ago, was a fan of Florio. He said in a 1990 interview that he believed the then-governor would turn Atlantic City around. "Jim Florio's going to do some job. I really believe strongly in Jim Florio," he said.
Worth noting: in a 2006 profile of Florio's wife, Lucinda, she said the Jersey Shore and Paris were her favorite places.
Editors' pick: Originally published July 14.