In 1988, a much younger Donald Trump appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show as he promoted his first best-seller Trump: The Art of the Deal. When Winfrey asked him about his $95,000 spent on newspaper advertisement railing against Japan and its success in challenging American business, there were echoed themes that he has reiterated during his current presidential campaign. At the end of the Reagan era, Trump said that America was getting “ripped off” by its allies, including Japan.
Trump told Winfrey, “We let Japan come in and dump everything right into our markets… They come over here, they sell their cars, their VCRs. They knock the hell out of our companies. And, hey, I have tremendous respect for the Japanese people.”
Nowadays, Trump has set his sights on China as America's chief competitor. These comments track with an appearance in July of this year, when Trump kicked off his South Carolina campaign. He gave his take on dealing with China:
"Believe me, [the Chinese] tax you [via currency manipulation]. We don't tax, because we have people that are stupid. ... The problem with free trade is you need smart people on our side. ... [gestures around] I could take some of the people up here, I could put them in. They'd do a great job."
"You can win against China if you're smart. But our people don't have a clue. We give state dinners to the heads of China. I say 'Why are you doing state dinners for them? They're ripping us left and right. Just take them to McDonald's and go back to the negotiating table.' It's true!"
Back in 1988, when as a much younger man he was already touted as being of presidential timber, when asked by Winfrey whether he would run for the presidency, Trump said “Probably not. But I do get tired of seeing the country get ripped off… I just don’t think I have the inclination to do it.”
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