Donald Trump and Other Politicians Who Got Stuck in Elevators While on the Job
At worst, being trapped in an elevator is your scariest nightmare. At best, it’s pretty awkward. Either way, it certainly can bring out both the best and the worst in people. Politicians like President Donald Trump are no exception — and they seem to find themselves in this unfortunate situation more often than the average American does.
Whether they cowered in the corner of snapped selfies for Instagram, here are 15 politicians who have been stuck in elevators. See whose elevator went into a scary free-fall (page 7), who blamed Trump for his elevator mishap (page 4), and who Trump blasted after his own scary incident (page 15).
1. Three Pennsylvania mayors
- Location: Westin Hotel in Pittsburgh
- They were attending a meeting for the Allegheny League of Municipalities.
Three Pennsylvania mayors walked into an elevator together. While the story starts out sounding like a joke, what happened next was scary when the doors refused to budge at the parking garage. Pittsburgh Major Bill Peduto tweeted photos of himself and the others while they were trapped and of him smiling with rescue workers after the ordeal.
Emergency workers pried open the doors in about 40 minutes after a hotel worker aboard the elevator called for help on her walkie-talkie. “I should have taken the stairs,” Peduto joked afterwards.
Next: A plaque marks the elevator where this former president was stuck.
2. President Gerald Ford
- Location: University of Pennsylvania library
- He was hosting an event in honor of a university official.
In 1984, former U.S. President Gerald Ford hosted an event at the University of Pennsylvania. He boarded a staff elevator which then got stuck between the basement and first floor. Secret Service agents rushed to secure the areas and find technical personnel. In a few minutes, he was rescued.
“Ford came out; he was in good humor — jovial about the whole thing, and they went on with the commemoration,” said Joe Zucca, the university’s director for planning and organizational analysis.
Next: A Trump cabinet member
3. HUD Director Ben Carson
- Location: Miami housing project
- He was on a HUD development listening tour.
After he was sworn in, Housing and Urban Development Director Ben Carson took a nationwide tour to visit HUD developments. But he got more than he bargained for when he became trapped in an elevator at a Miami complex in April 2017. After about 15 minutes, a rescue crew was able to free Carson, his wife, and others from inside.
Former NBA star Alonzo Mourning, whose nonprofit group helped develop the complex, nervously waited outside the elevator. He apologized to Carson once he was free. In Carson’s next stop on the tour, he asked if someone had the “key” before entering the elevator.
Next: See who blamed Trump when his elevator got stuck
4. Senator Ted Cruz
- Location: South Carolina
- He was on the campaign trail and joked the mishap was Trump’s fault.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz didn’t miss an opportunity to take a shot at then-presidential campaign rival Donald Trump when he got stuck in an elevator in January 2016. “Who put Donald Trump in charge of the elevators?” he quipped upon being released. He was participating in a forum on national security. Footage was captured on video of the candidate and his advisors being released after the brief incident.
Next: A mishap that incited panic among Secret Service agents
5. President Lyndon Johnson
- Location: The Pentagon
- He was there to fire a defense official, so the elevator incident sparked panic about a possible military coup.
In February 1968, President Lyndon Johnson arrived at the Pentagon to fire Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara for his handling of the Vietnam War. While on the elevator en route to McNamara’s office, the elevator unexpectedly stopped with 13 on board.
“What’s wrong with this thing?” Johnson asked his aides. A tense panic ensued: Was this part of a military coup on McNamara’s last day in office? Would someone inject a deadly gas? An aide used the president’s papers to wedge the door open for fresh air. After 12 minutes, a maintenance man pried open the door. Secret Service agents heaved Johnson out to safety.
Next: Unsafe elevators at City Hall?
6. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton
- Location: Phoenix City Hall
- He later awarded the officer with whom he was trapped.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton had a harrowing 25 minutes in March 2016 when he was stuck in an elevator at City Hall along with Officer Sheree Lee, a member of his security detail. They were trapped near the 10th floor before a technician set them free. He praised Lee for her calm during the ordeal and later presented her and her colleagues with a “thank you” cake.
Next: She was trapped in a free-falling elevator.
7. RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel
- Location: Princeton Club in New York City
- The elevator went into free-fall with the doors open.
In one of the scarier incidents, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel was trapped in a slowly free-falling elevator in October 2017. She had just finished a briefing with some GOP bigwigs. A group of them boarded the elevator on the fourth floor. It began descending with the doors still open.
“We descended to the last floor and then we went past it,” said MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who also was on board. “Then we hit the alarm button, and we were trapped for around 15 minutes … Finally, we were rescued by some elevator techs and were able to crawl out.”
Next: A former presidential candidate was left shell-shocked.
8. Hillary Clinton
- Location: Pepsi Center in Denver
- She was at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
Hillary Clinton’s speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention was well received, according to reports. However, not everything went her way while she was at the Pepsi Center. One evening, she became stuck in an elevator, ABC News reported, describing the incident as “a minor elevator mishap.” She was seen leaving the elevator looking a tad shell-shocked, but an aide said she was fine.
Next: She was trapped with a pregnant aide.
9. Senator Dianne Feinstein
- Location: U.S. Capitol
- She and aides, including a pregnant woman, were trapped for 15 minutes.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein seemed in good spirits after she and several aides were rescued from a stalled elevator in the U.S. Capital in June 2013. They were stuck between the second and third floors for about 15 minutes in a “Senators only” elevator. Maintenance workers pried the doors open from above.
“We were trying to figure out how to deliver on the elevator,” Feinstein laughed as she emerged with her aides, including a pregnant woman. The problem was deemed to be a broken fuse. The group opted for a different elevator to reach their destination.
Next: An iconic 1980s president
10. President Ronald Reagan
- Location: White House
- He was heading from the West Wing to a ceremony.
Ronald Reagan and four others were trapped in a White House elevator in 1982 after a utility plant fire caused power outages around Washington. Fortunately for the group, they were rescued in about five minutes. The president was late for a ceremony as a result. When he arrived, he said, “I don’t know just how to approach this and tell you why we were late. In 18 months it’s never happened.”
When returning to the West Wing, he quipped, “I believe I’ll take the stairs. I need the exercise.”
Next: A senator who took a selfie
11. Senator Angus King
- Location: U.S. Capitol
- He was leaving the Senate floor after a vote.
In modern times, what do people do when stuck in elevators? They take selfies, of course. That’s what Sen. Angus King did in February 2017. He was heading back to his office from a Senate vote when the elevator stopped with the doors locked closed. A fellow trapped senator called his office for assistance, but they thought he was joking. King tried to summon help by pressing the alarm buttons.
After 15 minutes, a mechanic pried the doors open. “Don’t know what caused the problem, but my bet is it was the Russians,” he mentioned in the photo caption on Instagram.
Next: A beleaguered mayor
12. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford
- Location: En route to Economic Club of Canada speech
- Without cell service on the elevator, he was unable to communicate why he wasn’t showing up.
In January 2014, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was almost an hour late to making a speech because he was trapped in an elevator. He was unable to communicate what the hold-up was, since he and the eight others trapped had no cell phone service. By the time he arrived, lunch had been served and some had already left.
Just two days prior, the beleaguered official admitted to being intoxicated when he was captured on video ranting in Jamaican and English about being followed at a fast food restaurant.
Next: Trapped on the way to his victory speech
13. U.S. Rep. John Katko
- Location: Sheraton University Hotel in Syracuse, New York
- He was heading to make his election victory speech.
On his way to celebrate a happy moment, U.S. Rep. John Katko became trapped in a hotel elevator. He, his wife Robin, and their three children were unharmed. “I don’t know if it’s a good omen or bad, but we got stuck on the elevator and had to be taken out by firemen, I swear to god,” Katko said during his late-night victory speech at the hotel ballroom in November 2016.
Next: A faulty Parliament building elevator
14. Zimbabwe Parliament members
- Location: Zimbabwe Parliament Building
- Headed to budget meetings, they were trapped for almost an hour.
In January 2014, six Zimbabwe government officials were trapped in an elevator at the Parliament Building for almost an hour. Eight people in total were headed to post-budget meetings in committee rooms on the fifth floor. The faulty elevator stopped working when approaching the third floor, and panic ensued. The victims used cell phones to call for help, and technicians opened the doors.
Next: President Donald Trump blasted his rescuers.
15. President Donald Trump
- Location: The Mining Exchange Hotel in Colorado Springs
- He was leaving for a campaign rally. He later blasted the fire department in his speech.
Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump arrived an hour late for a University of Colorado rally after being stuck on a hotel elevator in July 2016. The Colorado Springs Fire Department lowered a ladder, allowing Trump and his crew to climb out.
Minutes later, Trump blasted his rescuers, the fire department, for shutting off entry to his campaign event due to capacity restrictions. A member of Trump’s entourage had caused the mishap when he used a bypass key but didn’t know how to turn it back on, CNN reported. Ten people were stuck in all, and no one was hurt.
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