Donald Trump: Presidential Candidate Profile

donald trump

Donald Trump

Declared June 16, 2015

donald trump

Donald Trump

Declared June 16, 2015



Businessman Donald Trump announced his intention to seek the 2016 Republican presidential nomination at Trump Tower on June 16. 

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Trump at a Glance


Donald John Trump, Sr. is chairman of the Trump Organization. He is also the star of his own reality series, The Apprentice and The Celebrity Apprentice.

A real estate developer for over 45 years, Trump has been dabbling in politics since 1987. Over the years, Trump’s party affiliation has changed almost as often as he’s considered running for office. Trump has said that he identifies with Democrats more than with Republicans and that he feels that Democrats manage the economy better than Republicans do. His political donations match his rhetoric, with hundreds of thousands of donations to Democrat committees and candidates.

If there is one issue on which Trump aligns with Republican primary voters it is immigration. Trump accurately identifies that an unsecure border is one the largest problems facing our nation. Some critics take issue with his delivery while others take issue with his policy prescriptions (secured border) as well as his delivery method. Judging from early 2016 poll numbers, many Americans have found Trump’s direct style of communication, as well as policy prescriptions, refreshing. Trump has also identified the incredible burden illegal immigration places on social services and welfare programs.

On other issues, however, Trump’s position strays from Republican orthodoxy or remains ambiguous due to his penchant for conflicting statements. Trump was for abortion rights before he was pro-life. He supports the NSA’s metadata collection program, but would deny the agency free access to the records. He rails against Obamacare, but favors universal healthcare. Trump supports traditional marriage and states’ rights to define marriage, but has argued that the Supreme Court has the authority to determine the issue for states. He believes we need to cut taxes, but advocates for a tax on the wealthy. Trump is also pro-bailout and supports government seizure of private property under eminent domain laws. Finally, Trump has avoided wading into many important issues, like religious freedom, fuel subsidies, and the Export-Import Bank.

During the campaign Trump has changed his stance significantly on the Second Amendment from his past positions.  The one-time supporter of assault weapons bans, and background checks, now says that he would end or significantly curtail both.  He has also strongly come out for national reciprocity on concealed carry permits.

Trump has shown the most conviction on foreign policy. While he has not released detailed plans on many of the world’s pressing problems, Trump has gone farther than most in reprimanding China as a bad actor, specifically calling out the Chinese government for perceived currency manipulation and meddling in world affairs. Trump is also very critical of OPEC, warning the U.S. against the stranglehold OPEC has on the world’s oil supply.

Finally, Trump has been largely silent on how he would fix the federal budget, saying only that deep cuts will help get us back on track. Trump has said little, however, about what those cuts would look like.

Trump’s bombastic personality affords him an over-sized microphone on the campaign trail. It is no surprise that voters gravitate towards him when he focuses on his conservative positions. But Trump brings a long paper trail of liberal contradictions to his campaign, and he will face an uphill battle to convince primary voters that he is the real deal. 

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Born June 14, 1946, Donald John Trump, Sr. is chairman of the Trump Organization, a real estate development and management company founded by his father, Fred Trump.

Trump began college at Fordham University, transferring after two years to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and graduating with a degree in economics. After graduation, Trump went to work for his father at Elizabeth Trump and Son, which he took over and renamed The Trump Organization within three years. Over the next decade, Trump took what had been a midsize business focused on apartment houses in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island valued at $40 million and turned it into a conglomerate with assets worth one billion dollars.

By the late 1980s, Trump had grown too big, too fast, plunging his business billions of dollars in debt. By 1990, Trump’s net worth was negative $900 million. Trump’s siblings bailed their brother out twice, loaning him millions from their share of their father’s estate. Seven years later, he was a billionaire.

Since then, Trump has continued to ride a roller coaster of business success and failure, putting numerous business ventures into bankruptcy. Through it all, Trump has managed to emerge unscathed time and again. In addition to his formal ventures in real estate, hospitality, and his television series, The Apprentice, Trump has been successful in branding his name, branching into restaurants, travel, menswear, golf, chocolates, games, books, and vodka, among others.

1987 marked Trump’s first flirtation with a presidential bid, but it wasn’t until 12 years later that he took a formal step in that direction. After leaving the Republican Party for Ross Perot’s Reform Party in 1999, Trump formed an exploratory presidential committee. At the time, Trump was touting a socially liberal and fiscally conservative platform, opposing gun control and supporting tax cuts, abortion rights, a strong national defense, and universal health care.

Trump dipped his toe in the water of presidential politics again in 2004 and 2008. In between, Trump weighed a 2006 bid for governor of New York. In 2011, he once again considered a presidential run. But the 2016 cycle has been different. Despite his brief look at the governor’s mansion in 2013, Trump has been eyeing a presidential run for over two years. In 2013, Trump spent more than $1 million researching a potential bid. In March 2015, Trump formed an exploratory presidential committee. And on June 16, 2015, Trump formally launched a presidential campaign.

Forbes Magazine estimates Trump’s net worth at $4.1 billion (Forbes Magazine). In his presidential announcement Trump pegged it at closer to $8.7 billion, with assets valued at $9.24 billion (Politico).

Trump has been married three times. His first wife, Ivana Zelníčková, bore Trump’s first three children, Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric. Trump and second wife Marla Maples had a daughter, Tiffany. Trump is currently married to Melania Knauss. The pair have a son, Barron.

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Budget, Spending and Debt


Trump argues that his business background makes him uniquely qualified to be president. However, Trump has offered few specifics on how to right America’s financial ship. He has accurately warned that absent substantial cuts to the federal budget, the U.S. is headed for fiscal catastrophe. He has also argued for reducing the size of government to its constitutionally mandated functions. Given some of Trump’s past rhetoric that has opposed entitlement reforms, it is unclear whether he intends to address the long-term drivers of our nation’s debt such as Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare. Refreshingly, Trump has advocated for Republicans to use the debt ceiling as a leverage point to extract fiscal concessions from Democrats.

  • Trump warned that unless deep cuts are made to the federal budget there will be a “big fat explosion and it’s all going to come to an end.” (MediaITE
  • In 2013, Trump dismissed concern over the impending sequester, saying the automatic spending cuts wouldn’t do any significant harm because they were so minimal. (MediaITE
  • In keeping with his argument to reduce government to its constitutionally mandated functions, Trump argues that stopping the federal government from providing public services such as farm subsidies, food safety, energy regulations, and transportation would save trillions of dollars. (2012 Presidential Candidates)
  • Trump supports using the debt ceiling as leverage in fiscal negotiations. “Look, the Republicans are sitting there with a nuclear weapon, so to speak. They have the debt ceiling coming up. They can use that as part of negotiations, and they should.” (Politico)
  • In 1999, Trump predicted that taxing assets over $10 million would eliminate the national debt. That, combined with income tax cuts and eliminating the inheritance tax, would boost economic activity by 35 percent, thereby eliminating the country’s revenue shortfall and enabling a robust budget. (The America We Deserve)
  • Trump has criticized Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budgets for being hard on low-income Americans, reforming Medicare, and rewarding the wealthy. (Think Progress)
  • Trump pledged to double what Hillary Clinton wants to spend on infrastructure projects, suggesting over half a trillion dollars in new federal spending. (Twitter
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Civil Liberties


Trump has an inconsistent record when it comes to civil liberties. He supported the NSA mass surveillance program but did not weigh in on the recently passed reforms. Overall, he has avoided commenting on religious freedom, but says he would be an advocate for Christians. Trump supports an individual’s right to make unlimited campaign contributions, but advocates for an end to soft money in politics. Most concerning is Trump’s belief that the government can use eminent domain powers to seize private property for economic benefit for others.

  • Trump supports the NSA’s metadata collection program, saying, “I support legislation which allows the NSA to hold the bulk metadata. For oversight, I propose that a court, which is available any time on any day, is created to issue individual rulings on when this metadata can be accessed.” This position was identical to the NSA’s mass surveillance program before being reformed by the USA Freedom Act. (Newsweek)
  • Trump has avoided commenting on religious freedom since Indiana passed its Religious Freedom and Restoration Act into law. Instead, he has said that he will be the “greatest representative of the Christians they've had in a long time” if elected president. (Christian Today) (Breitbart)
  • Trump believes political soft money should be banned, while individuals should be allowed to make unlimited contributions. "If I were drawing a political cartoon to represent the situation, it would include a very large guy with a huge bag of money. On that bag would be written one word: soft. Soft money is the bane of the current system and we need to get rid of it." (The America We Deserve)
  • Trump supported the Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in Kelo v. City of New London, giving public authorities the right to seize private land for economic development by private investors. Trump said, “I happen to agree with [the decision] 100 percent.” (National Review)
  • Trump highlighted his support for prosecuting "hate crimes" against homosexuals in his 2000 book, The America We Deserve. “Hate Crime” is a term used to extend special protections for a specific classes and in essence elevates the importance of these classes above others. For example, murder of homosexual or heterosexual should be viewed equally under the law and punished equally. Creating special classes is a liberal tactic used to divide and segment society.(Google Books)
  • Trump said that Kim Davis should not have been jailed for refusing to issue gay marriage licenses. He also said that she should allow her deputy clerks to do so, but also said that 30 miles away you can get a license so people should do that. He added, "The decision's been made, and that is the law of the land." (CNN)
  • Much like his stance on eminent domain, Donald Trump has shown a troubling tendency to want to use the power of government to stifle political speech. When the conservative Club for Growth released an advertisement regarding Trump's changing positions on taxation, Trump responded with a legal letter calling for them to cease and desist the advertisements. A chilling move towards the silencing of political speech. (Politico)
  • Donald Trump attacked SuperPACs (political action committees) in the third Republican debate. By suggesting they should be outlawed he came out against the First Amendment protection of speech, and echoed progressive talking points. (Time)

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As a businessman, Trump understands the power of the marketplace in our education system, and has supported local control of education. Trump opposes Common Core standards, supports eliminating the Department of Education, and advocates for improving education by empowering parents with a combination of school choice, charter schools, and vouchers to foster competition and put children first.

  • Trump believes our schools should be teaching citizenship and need to stop dumbing down the curriculum. (2012 Presidential Candidates)
  • Trump would eliminate the Department of Education, deferring to state and local governments to manage their education systems. (2012 Presidential Candidates)
  • Trump opposes Common Core standards, calling them a disaster. (Business Insider) He has elaborated, saying, "I think that education should be local, absolutely. I think that for people in Washington to be setting curriculum and to be setting all sorts of standards for people living in Iowa and other places is ridiculous.” (Ballotpedia)
  • Trump supports school choice, charter schools, and vouchers, arguing they create a competitive system that improves education and offers an alternative to a failing public education model. “Education reformers call this school choice, charter schools, vouchers, even opportunity scholarships. I call it competition-the American way.” (The America We Deserve)
  • When asked if he would cut the Department of Education, Trump said that he would cut it "way way down" but that he sees some role for the department to play in "coordination." Conservatives want to abolish the Department of Education all together. (YouTube)
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Energy and Environment


Trump has avoided taking a public stand on renewable fuel standards and ethanol subsidies. To his credit, he opposed the wind production tax credit, but largely because he feared local turbine farms would hurt the value of a golf resort he was developing in Scotland. Trump opposes cap-and-trade and other policies that liberals put forward to address “climate change.” Trump goes so far as to point out that liberal plans to tax carbon or raise energy prices will decimate the U.S. economy and only benefit China. Trump supports utilizing America’s natural energy and oil resources as a path to energy independence. He has also been a vocal critic of the monopoly OPEC has over the world’s oil supply.

  • Trump believes climate change is a hoax, tweeting that “This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps, and our GW scientists are stuck in ice.” (Twitter
  • Trump blames global warming on China, arguing that liberal fixes for climate change would decimate the U.S. economy and benefit China. (Twitter
  • Trump advocated for utilizing America’s natural energy and oil resources. “The natural gas reserves we have in the United States could power America’s energy needs for the next 110 years.” (Daily Caller
  • Trump advocated for the passage of the No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act, which would allow the United States to sue OPEC for violating antitrust laws. “Imagine how much money the average American would save if we busted the OPEC cartel.” (Time to Get Tough: Making America #1 Again
  • Trump supports fracking, saying, “Fracking will lead to American energy independence. With price of natural gas continuing to drop, we can be at a tremendous advantage.” (Twitter
  • Trump supports developing nuclear energy. (Fox News)
  • Trump opposes the wind production tax credit, taking out an ad in Scotland speaking before the Scottish parliament on the issue. "Scotland, if you pursue this policy of these monstrous turbines, Scotland will go broke. They are ugly, they are noisy and they are dangerous. If Scotland does this, Scotland will be in serious trouble and will lose tourism to places like Ireland, and they are laughing at us." In full disclosure, Trump was primarily concerned that wind farms would negatively impact a golf resort he was developing. (Huffington Post
  • Trump opposes cap-and-trade policies, saying: “As crazy as it sounds, the Obama administration wants higher energy prices because they believe that will force America to drive less and businesses to slow down on production and transportation….Until we get this country's lifeblood--oil--back down to reasonable rates, America's economy will continue to slump, jobs won't get created, and American consumers will face ever-increasing prices.” (Time to Get Tough: Making America #1 Again
  • In the fall of 2015, Trump made his support for the renewable fuel mandate (ethanol) apparent, calling the fuel "terrific." (Rare
  • In 2012, Trump tweeted, "Nobody wants wind turbines, they are failing all over the world and need massive subsidy -- a disaster for taxpayers. In 2015 Trump, when confronted by a voter in Iowa, said he would support subsidies for wind turbines to save jobs. (Twitter) (Washington Post)

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Foreign Policy and Defense


Trump has been particularly outspoken on foreign policy. He has criticized China as a bad actor, President Bush for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and President Obama’s failed nuclear talks with Iran. Trump supports cost-sharing agreements with countries the U.S. defends, arguing that we should be collecting payment from allies to share in the cost of providing security. Trump is also a staunch supporter of Israel and has vocally criticized President Obama’s stewardship of that relationship. Trump has opposed arming of rebels that may not be in America’s long-term interest. That said, some of Trump’s statements are vague and over-simplistic, such as his solution for dealing with ISIS. Overall, Trump’s guiding philosophy on foreign policy is to put American interest first and avoid foreign conflicts where there is no clear U.S. interest at stake. That policy of avoiding foreign confrontation has one troubling aspect, which is Trump’s nonchalance towards more countries to have nuclear weapons, including Saudi Arabia. 

  • Trump opposed the second Iraq War as misguided. (Slate
  • Trump has rightly identified the U.S. should be hesitant about engaging in Libya without knowing who the long term intentions and identity of the rebels. “I'm only interested in Libya if we keep the oil. If we don't keep the oil, I'm not interested. We don't know who the rebels are. They make the rebels like it's some romantic, beautiful novel — the rebels. I hear the rebels are Al Qaeda, I hear they're Iran-backed and Iran-influenced. Where are they getting those weapons before we came along? From Iran. Gaddafi's going to go around saying he won the war against this country. When you ask me what I'd do — I'm only interested in Libya if we get the oil.” (Media Matters Action Network
  • Trump made the case for not removing troops immediately from Iraq because of the potential for mass destabilization and the potential for Iraq to become radicalized by Iran. “I would not leave Iraq and let Iran take over the oil.” (The Wall Street Journal) He also said: “Iran is going to take over Iraq, and if that’s going to happen, we should just stay there and take the oil. They want the oil, and why should we? We de-neutered Iraq, Iran is going to walk in, take it over, take over the second largest oil fields in the world. That’s going to happen. That would mean that all of those soldiers that have died and been wounded and everything else would have died in vain– and I don’t want that to happen. I want their parents and their families to be proud.” (Think Progress
  • Trump opposed U.S. nuclear talks with Iran, saying, "The worst thing you can do is sign a bad deal. Walk from a deal, put the sanctions on, whatever you have to do. You can't let them have a nuclear weapon." (FOX News
  • Trump sees President Obama as a serious threat to Israel. “There has never been a greater enemy to Israel than Barack Obama. It’s incredible the way he treats them, the way he’s speaking to them. I think he treats our known enemies much better….[President Obama is] the worst thing that has ever happened to Israel.” (Haaretz
  • Trump believes the U.S. should collect payment from the countries we provide protection to. He advocates for a cost-sharing agreement before committing American resources. “Imagine how much stronger economic shape we would be in if we made the Iraqi government agree to a cost-sharing plan that paid us back the $1.5 trillion we’ve dropped on liberating Iraq.” (Time to Get Tough: Making America #1 Again
  • Trump believes that U.S. forces have no role in the Middle East. While Trump deserves credit for his reticence to commit U.S. soldiers, his position is over-simplistic given U.S. obligations to its ally Israel and the continually growing threat of a nuclear Iran. (2012 Presidential Candidates
  • When asked how he would deal with ISIS, Trump responded, “I have an absolute way of defeating ISIS, and it would be decisive and quick and it would be very beautiful. Very surgical.” When pressed for details, he demurred by explaining that “If I tell you right now, everyone else is going to say: "Wow, what a great idea." You're going to have 10 candidates going to use it and they're going to forget where it came from. Which is me.” (Des Moines Register
  • Trump opposed arming Syrian rebels because of the lack of an identifiable strong rebel group. "We are arming people, but now we have no idea who they are. They're all splintered up. They will eventually probably join ISIS, and they'll have all our weapons. [Obama] made a mistake. He makes lots of mistakes." (Newsmax
  • Trump has avoided articulating a specific strategy for dealing with ISIS until August 2015, when he told CNN that the way to defeat ISIS is to go after their money. He said he would attack their oil reserves first to dry up their access to capital. (New York Times
  • Speaking to a crowd at the "Stop the Iran Deal" rally held in Washington DC, Donald Trump said that the deal is the most "incompetently negotiated" deal in history. Days earlier, however, he said he would not tear up the deal on his first day as president, rather he would renegotiate it. At the rally he promised that the renegotiation would result in "so much winning" for the United States. The fact remains that he would allow the deal to stand until he could renegotiate, however. (Fox News) (CNN
  • Donald Trump told 60 Minutes that he would "end ISIS forcefully." He then added that he wouldn't do so until ISIS toppled Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad. (CBS News
  • Trump said that in order to get North Korea to end their nuclear program he would consider sanctions on the Chinese until they told they exerted diplomatic pressure on North Korean to end the program. (CBS News
  • At the fourth GOP debate, Trump said that we should not be aiding Syrian Rebels because we do not "know who they are." He is concerned they may be radical Islamists. (TIME
  • At the fourth GOP debate, Trump said that he would not stand in the way of Russia if they wanted to destroy ISIS. (TIME
  • At the fourth GOP debate, Trump said that our NATO allies have to step up what they are willing to do to support he Ukraine against Russian aggression. He bemoaned the fact that it always falls on the United States to bear the financial brunt of such support. (TIME
  • At the fifth Republican debate, Trump said that he was against removing strong Middle Eastern dictators that don't threaten the United States because they keep order and stop the spread of Islamic radicalism. (Washington Post
  • Trump believes that more countries should have nuclear weapons. He said "it is going to happen anyway." He specifically said it would not be bad if Japan, South Korea, or Saudi Arabia had nuclear weapon capability. (Washington Post
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Free Market


Trump has a terrible record on free market issues. The only bright spot is the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing, but this glimmer is countermanded by his repeated support for bailing out Wall Street and the auto industry, and increased stimulus spending. Of particular concern is Trump’s belief that the government can use eminent domain powers to seize private property in the name of private economic development. This comes as no surprise, given his support for using eminent domain to profit his own company.

  • Trump supported the Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in Kelo v. City of London, allowing public authorities to seize private land for economic development by private investors; Trump said, “I happen to agree with [the decision] 100 percent.” (National Review) This is no surprise given Trump’s attempt to use eminent domain in his own line of work. (Institute for Justice)
  • Trump supported President Obama’s 2009 stimulus, saying: “The word stimulus is probably not used in its fullest … you know, certain of the things that were given weren't really stimulus. They were pork, as we call it, or they were gifts to certain people. But overall, I think he's [President Obama] doing very well. You do need stimulus and you do have to keep the banks alive.” (CNN)
  • Trump supported TARP, saying, "You had to do something to shore up the banks, because ... you would have had a run on every bank." (CNN
  • Trump supported the 2008 auto bailout, saying, “I think the government should stand behind them 100 percent. You cannot lose the auto companies. They’re great. They make wonderful products.” He also said that the federal government could “easily save the companies.” (Daily Caller
  • Trump criticized the Federal Reserve’s intervention in the debt market, saying quantitative easing creates “phony numbers” that mislead the marketplace and “will not ultimately benefit the economy. The dollar will go down in value and inflation will start rearing its ugly head.” (CNBC
  • Donald Trump has a history of using eminent domain to complete business deals. Multiple times Trump has supported the use of government agencies to take possession of homes and businesses for use in his private business plans. Eminent domain seizures are reserved only for public use of property rather than abuse by the government taking property from one individual and giving to another. (Washington Post)
  • Donald Trump has sought and received crony capitalist tax breaks for his commercial properties in New York. These tax breaks, and even an abatement, force the property taxes of other property owners to rise at the expense of the connected. Special treatment for one business or industry over another with the tax code conflicts with free market principles. (National Review
  • In 2009, Trump supported Barack Obama's call for limits on the pay of executives. (CNN
  • "Upon taking office, I will issue a temporary moratorium on new agency regulations. My running mate, Mike Pence, signed a similar order when he became governor of Indiana. This will give our American companies the certainty they need to reinvest in our community, get cash off of the sidelines, start hiring for new jobs, and expanding businesses. I will also immediately cancel all illegal and overreaching executive orders." (TIME)

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Health Care and Entitlements


Like any good republican, Trump claims to oppose Obamacare, even supporting conservatives’ attempt to defund Obamacare in the fall of 2013. Trump, however, is on record supporting “universal healthcare,” advocating for American adoption of the Canadian healthcare system. This places Trump’s policy inline with the most liberal members of the Democrat Party. Trump has also opposed free-market reforms to Medicare, arguing that growing the economy will solve the problem. To his credit, Trump supports privatizing parts of Social Security, but opposed the recent House GOP budgets citing entitlement reform as the reason for his opposition.

  • Trump opposes Obamacare, saying, "I will fight to end Obamacare and replace it with something that makes sense for people in business and not bankrupt the country." (USA Today)
  • Trump has advocated for universal healthcare in a system similar to Canada’s government-run healthcare system. “I’m a conservative on most issues but a liberal on health….We must take care of our own. We must have universal healthcare. Our objective [should be] to make reforms for the moment and, longer term, to find an equivalent of the single-payer plan that is affordable, well-administered, and provides freedom of choice.” (The America We Deserve)
  • Trump supports transitioning parts of Social Security to private accounts, saying, “Allow every American to dedicate some portion of their payroll taxes to a personal Social Security account that they could own and invest in stocks and bonds… Directing Social Security funds into personal accounts invested in real assets would swell national savings, pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into jobs and the economy. These investments would boost national investment, productivity, wages, and future economic growth.” (The America We Deserve)
  • Trump has opposed reforms to Social Security and Medicare, arguing that growing the economy will solve the entitlement program’s insolvency, but has not elaborated on his proposal. "I am going to save Social Security without any cuts. I know where to get the money from. Nobody else does." (Twitter
  • Trump believes public assistance should be limited, and that religious institutions should carry the burden of caring for the poor and disadvantaged. (2012 Presidential Candidates)
  • Trump echoed Democrat talking points when referring to Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budgets, arguing that they were too radical. “I’m concerned about doing anything that's going to tinker too much with Medicare. I protect the senior citizens. Senior citizens are protected. They are lifeblood, as far as I’m concerned. I think Paul Ryan is too far out front with the issue. He ought to sit back and relax.” (Today
  • Trump opposes reforming Medicare by transitioning to a voucher program, but he has failed to articulate how he would fix the unfunded program. “I don’t think the Republicans should be out on this ledge….I’m studying that situation very closely, and if and when I decide to run ... I’ll have a plan. The seniors have to be cherished. They have to be taken care of.” (Christian Science Monitor
  • Trump supported the conservative effort to defund Obamacare, tweeting at Republican lawmakers that “Congress must defund ObamaCare. It is destroying Medicare and breaking promises to our Seniors, including veterans” (Twitter), and “NO GAMES! HOUSE @GOP MUST DEFUND OBAMACARE! IF THEY DON’T, THEN THEY OWN IT!” (Twitter
  • In what sounded all too similar to Obamacare, Trump told 60 Minutes that he would replace Obamacare with a plan that "covers all Americans." That the vast majority of Americans would buy their insurance on an open market, and that the government would pay for those that couldn't afford it. (CBS News
  • Trump backed off his call for raising the Social Security retirement age to 70. He told 60 minutes that he would instead save Social Security by having "other countries pay for it." (CBS News
  • Trump supports work requirements for welfare recipients. (Time to Get Tough
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During the GOP primary Trump’s inflammatory statements on immigration attracted a disproportionate amount of media attention. But further examination of his GOP primary statements and past positions at times appear to be at odds. This was further confirmed when he pivoted at the end of August by using talking points that were almost identical to ones used Jeb Bush and other Gang of Eight amnesty supporters. During the GOP primary, Trump correctly identified America’s porous border as one the largest problems facing our nation. Trump had also identified the incredible burden that illegal immigration places on social services and welfare programs and as such has advocated for closing the birthright citizenship loophole. Even after his pivot Trump remains very strong on border security, but delving further into his rhetoric reveals he is weaker on interior enforcement. Not only do Trump’s statements leave clues that he could be open to a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens through a meritorious system, but he has specifically said that once deported he would prioritize current illegals for re-entry into the United States. His reasoning is that illegals perform jobs “a citizen of the United States does not want to do.” A path of reasoning that is very similar to one used by proponents of the Gang of 8 amnesty bill. This reasoning, combined with Trump’s claim of placing a large door in the middle of the border wall, seem to imply that Trump would increase immigration levels to the U.S., a position that seems to conflict with his campaign website that calls for a moratorium on visas and green cards to boost domestic hiring. While Trump’s campaign statement is messaged to Americans who fear for a country that is losing their sovereignty, further examination of the issues reveals a candidate who has taken conflicting positions during the current campaign, and past positions that appear to have more in common with the immigration position of Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush than one might immediately think. Trump’s conflicting statements on immigration over the years, and even during this election, objectively leave one with no confidence that he would follow through on his GOP primary rhetoric. 

  • Trump’s first step in fixing our broken immigration system is defending our southern border. "I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words." (Business Insider)
  • Trump has voiced opposition to amnesty for illegal immigrants already in the country from a political perspective, saying that “every one of those 11 million people will be voting Democratic.” (CPAC 2013
  • In June of 2015, Trump alluded to a potential path for immigrants saying, "Give them a path. You have to make it possible for them to succeed." However it is not immediately clear if he was referring to illegal or legal immigration. (Twitter
  • Trump has tried to thread the needle on amnesty, saying that productive illegal immigrants could stay and should have "a road to legal status," while those who sponge off the system should be deported. Trump said he’d create a "system of merit" to make those determinations. (TMZ
  • Trump supports extending legal status to foreign students who are at the top of their class at American universities in fields critical to economic growth. (CPAC 2013)
  • Trump supports ending the birthright citizenship loophole frequently employed by illegal immigrants. (Time to Get Tough: Making America #1 Again
  • Trump stirred up controversy when he said that those coming to the U.S. from Mexico were not that country’s best citizens. “They’re sending us not their finest people. And it’s people from countries other than Mexico also. We have drug dealers coming across, we have rapists, we have killers, we have murderers. I mean it’s common sense — what, do you think they’re going to send us their best people, their finest people? The answer is no.” (National Review)
  • Donald Trump released a comprehensive immigration reform plan based on enforcement of current law, and the ending of birthright citizenship for children born in the United States to illegal immigrants. Trump's bold plan released in the summer drove the narrative and resulted in discussion of the important issue of chain migration. (
  • Before his presidential campaign, in 2013, Trump hosted a gathering of Dreamers at Trump Tower. He told them, they convinced him of the need to amnesty children of illegal immigrants to become citizens. He also reportedly admitted to hiring illegal immigrants to work on his golf courses. (NBC Latino
  • Donald Trump said that the United States must be ready to accept some Syrian Refugees, even though some of them may be militants or radicalized. He said this even though the U.S. takes in more refugees than any other country already. (CNN)
  • Trump said that he would deport any Syrian refugees let into the United States by the Obama Administration because of a lack of security screenings. (NBC News
  • At the fourth GOP debate, Trump explained how Dwight Eisenhower deported over a million illegal immigrants and said that would be the model he follows. (TIME
  • Trump proposed increasing the minimum wage that a person receiving an H1B visa must earn in order to replace an American worker. This would help to end the practice of replacing American STEM workers by importing cheaper labor, that otherwise could not immigrate. (Donald Trump Website)
  • Trump has proposed a temporary ban on Muslim Immigration into the United States of America. He also proposed not letting citizens who are Muslim back into the country after traveling abroad. (Donald Trump Website)
  • In 2013, Donald Trump supported amnesty for illegals after the border was secured. This was the same talking point used by proponents of the Gang of 8 at the time, border security first then amnesty. However, that was not the case regarding the Gang of 8 bill. (Twitter)
  • Trump's son Eric stoked conservative fears when he admitted that his father's immigration plan is really an amnesty plan. Trump, the younger, said, "The point isn’t just deporting them, it’s deporting them and letting them back in legally. He’s been so clear about that and I know the liberal media wants to misconstrue it, but its deporting them and letting them back legally." This echoes his father's comments, "I would get people out and then have an expedited way of getting them back into the country so they can be legal." This implies that illegals would be given a special status over others who have waited in the immigration line. (RedState)
  • While Trump rails against immigrants taking jobs from Americans on the campaign stump, nine companies that are majority owned by him has been applying to import foreign workers for low skilled positions. (Business Insider
  • In late August of 2016 Trump walked back his tough rhetoric on immigration and started to echo the language of the Gang of Eight Amnesty bill.  He opened the door to legalization but fell just shy of offering citizenship. (Conservative Review
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Moral Issues


Trump was previously a longtime supporter of abortion rights, but now considers himself pro-life. Trump has said that his conversion is due to an experience a friend had that changed his perception of abortion. While Trump personally supports traditional marriage and states’ right to decide the definition of marriage, he has also supported the Supreme Court’s right to determine the issue for states.

  • Trump was a longtime supporter of abortion rights, saying, “I support a woman’s right to choose, for example, but I am uncomfortable with the procedures. When Tim Russert asked me on Meet the Press if I would ban partial-birth abortion if I were president, my pro-choice instincts led me to say no.” (The America We Deserve)  
  • Trump has said he has become pro-life in the last several years. (CBN News
  • Trump believes that abortion should be banned past a certain point in a pregnancy with an exception for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. He did not, however, specify when that point would be. (Bloomberg News
  • Trump is opposed to gay marriage and civil benefits and believes that gay marriage should be decided by the states.  Trump, however, contradicted himself in 2015, saying he would support the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage. (Bloomberg News
  • Trump has not taken a position on embryonic stem cell research, saying he needed time to further familiarize himself with the issue. “I would say that I’d like to get back to you because I’m studying it very closely. It’s an issue, don’t forget, that as a businessman I’ve never been involved in.” (Life News
  • Trump says he would not support any government funding bill that funds Planned Parenthood or abortions. (Breitbartnew
  • After strongly coming out for defunding Planned Parenthood in the first presidential debate, Trump clarified his position. He said he would find a way to fund the "good things" that Planned Parenthood does. This is false liberal logic, that assumes that the organization segments its spending and that money sent to the "good things" doesn't free Planned Parenthood funds up for abortions. It would lead directly to federal funding of the harvesting of body parts. (Breitbartnew
  • Planned Parenthood praised Donald Trump's flip flop on defunding their federal funds. Trump use the liberal premise that Congress should continue federal funding for "the good stuff" of Planned Parenthood, despite that money is fungible. Planned Parenthood then called on other Republican candidates to do the same. (National Reviewnew
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Second Amendment


In the past Trump has payed lip service to the Second Amendment. More troubling is that he supported the so-called assault weapons ban and a longer waiting period for gun purchases. However, during the 2015 campaign, Trump has made a major shift on Second Amendment issues. He released a policy paper on the Second Amendment which promises major reforms that gun rights activists have long anted. Examples include support for national reciprocity for concealed carry permits, the end of weapons and magazine bans, and curtailing of the expansion of a failing background check system. Trump reverted to his old self after the Orlando terrorist attack, calling for the use of the no-fly list to restrict gun ownership, without due process.

  • Trump has a New York State gun license and owns two pistols. (Washington Times)
  • Trump believes that the Democrats’ approach to confiscate all guns will leave criminals as the only ones with weapons, but believes Republicans need to be more flexible on reforms. “Democrats want to confiscate all guns, which is a dumb idea because only the law-abiding citizens would turn in their guns and the bad guys would be the only ones left armed. The Republicans walk the NRA line and refuse even limited restrictions. I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I also support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun. With today’s Internet technology we should be able to tell within seventy-two hours if a potential gun owner has a record.” (The America We Deserve)
  • Trump has used pro-Second Amendment rhetoric, saying, “It is so important that we maintain the Second Amendment and that we maintain it strongly. And one of the main reasons is because the good people, the upstanding people, follow laws and norms but the bad ones don’t. So if the Second Amendment weren’t there to protect our rights and someone tampered with them, the good people would be affected but the bad people wouldn’t care — they couldn’t care less. It is absolutely imperative that we maintain the Second Amendment in its strongest form.” (Breitbart)
  • In the wake of the cold blooded murder of two journalists, by a mentally ill man in Virginia, Donald Trump resisted calls for more gun control. Trump said, "Well I don’t think I would[restrict gun sales to 'sane people'], because this is really a sick person. This isn’t a gun problem. This is a mental problem." (Politico
  • Trump's "Second Amendment Rights Plan" calls for nationwide reciprocity on concealed carry, the end of weapons and magazine bans, restoring the rights of military members to carry on base, and a moratorium on the expansion of background checks. These are all policies that conservatives, and those concerned with the erosion of the Second Amendment rights support. (Donald Trump Website
  • Trump believes that gun-free zones are "target practice for the sickos and for the mentally ill." He would strive to end the "gun free" zones that restrict individuals rights to protect themselves. (TIME
  • In the wake of the Orlando terrorist attack, Trump joined Democratic Party calls for using the terrorist watch, and no-fly lists to restrict Second Amendment rights. This is something even the ACLU does not support, due to lack of due process safeguards. (Conservative Review)

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Taxes, Economy and Trade


Trump has spoken about several tax initiatives that would bring about mixed results. They include taxing the assets of the wealthy, reducing the corporate tax rate to zero, taxing companies that outsource jobs overseas, lowering the rate on capital gains and dividends, repealing the death tax, and broadening the tax base and lowering rates overall. He opposes fast track trade authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, popularly dubbed “Obamatrade”, and at best is fine with mandatory unionization and at worst opposes a national Right-To-Work law. One distinguishing difference between Trump and other candidates is that he would charge a stiff import tax on Chinese products and for repercussions for perceived currency manipulation. Several conservatives have expressed concern that this could spark retaliatory tariffs from the Chinese on American exports but also drive up costs for American consumers. Without a more specific review of Trump’s tax plans it is impossible to predict it’s effect on the economy. For example Trump advocates for tax relief but then in the same breath supports raising taxes, which is reminiscent of some Democrat, tax plans. Additionally concerning is his plan for increasing tariffs on imports which could lead to increased tariffs on exports. Lastly Trump could potentially be the only 2016 GOP candidate that is not supportive of a national Right-To-Work law. 

  • In 1999, Trump advocated for a one-time 14.25 percent tax on individuals and trusts with a net worth of over $10 million. He argued that the tax would raise $5.7 trillion in revenue and erase the national debt. (The America We Deserve
  • Trump’s five point tax plan includes repealing the death tax; lowering the rate on capital gains and dividends; reducing the corporate tax rate to zero; imposing a 20 percent tax on those who outsource jobs overseas; and introducing a tax system with four brackets. The lowest bracket would be one percent and the top bracket 15 percent. (Time to Get Tough: Making America #1 Again)
  • Trump has correctly argued that lowering the tax rate on capital gains and dividends is critical for investment. “Capitalism requires capital. When government robs capital from investors, it takes away the money that creates jobs.” (Time to Get Tough: Making America #1 Again
  • Trump believes eliminating corporate taxes will create more jobs, saying, “How can we expect companies to hire American workers and locate their businesses in America when our government taxes them at exorbitant rates for doing so?” (Time to Get Tough: Making America #1 Again
  • Trump opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and giving President Obama fast track authority over trade deals. "While I'm a Republican, right now, some in the Republican Party are working overtime to hand more power to President Obama. These same people are turning their backs on the American workers and businesses." (Newsmax
  • Trump isn’t bothered by mandatory unions and hasn’t addressed the need for a national right-to-work law. “I grew up with unions. New York is largely union, and I sort of spent a lot of time in Florida, which is also a union right-to-work state so it’s a different kind of thing. But I’ve had great relationships with unions, and I’ve made good deals. I’ve made a lot of money, I mean, I’ve made many billions of dollars and in many cases I’ve been dealing with unions. So, really, collective bargaining doesn’t bother me so much.” (Human Events
  • Trump supports penalties for perceived currency manipulation by foreign governments. While nice sounding at first it doesn’t account for the fact the U.S. manipulates its currency through quantitative easing, but also for the potential for retaliatory tariffs. (Newsmax
  • Trump supports imposing harsh penalties on Chinese imports to encourage good behavior. “I would tell China that you’re either going to shape up, or I’m going to tax you at 25 percent for all the products you send into this country.” (The Wall Street Journal
  • Trump supports a multi-tiered wage control system, one tier for new entrants to the job market and a second slightly higher tier for older workers. (CommonDreams
  • In less than sixty seconds, Donald Trump supported then railed against instituting a flat tax on Fox & Friends. He initially said that we needed to phase in a flat tax, then attacked the central premise of a flat tax, and said that those earning more money should pay a higher rate. (Mediaite)  
  • Trump is making the elimination of the carried interest deduction the centerpiece of his tax reform proposal. Getting rid of the deduction would raise taxes on investors. (Washington Examiner
  • Donald Trump strongly took issue with Ben Carson calling a graduated income tax, "socialistic." Trump defended graduated taxes because the alternative is "unfair." (TIME
  • On CBS' 60 Minutes, Trump told Scott Pelley that he was ready to use tariffs to keep jobs in the United States. When asked by Pelley if he would start a trade war, he answered, "I'm talking about a fair war." He said he would break NAFTA if the Mexicans don't renegotiate it. He concluded that he doesn't believe in free trade, but "fair trade." Tariffs are ultimately passed on to consumers. (CBS News
  • Trump's tax plan reduces the top marginal rates on individuals from 39.6% to 25%. The plan has a bottom rate of 0%, a tax bracket for anyone making between 25K-50K (Depending on tax filing status). It significantly simplifies the tax code, It reduces capital gains and dividend taxes from 23.1% to 20%. Trump also eliminates the death tax. Overall, he reduces taxes by $12 trillion. Trump also drops the corporate rate to a competitive 15% - well below the international average of 25%. (
  • At the fourth GOP debate, Trump said he opposes a $15 minimum wage. (TIME
  • Trump proposed forcing U.S. Companies to manufacture in the US or face high tariffs on their overseas imports. For instance on auto companies he would tax imported parts at 35% and drive prices up for consumers. (Detroit News)
  • Trump doubled down on a claim made at the fourth GOP debate. He insisted that American workers earn too much money, and that wages are too high. (TIME
  • As the nation teetered on the brink of a stock market crash, Trump - sounding like Bernie Sanders - pledged to "tax Wall Street" to tap into populist anger at the wealthy. (Bloomberg)

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What Conservatives Are Saying About Trump


If there’s anyone who should know the value of filing for bankruptcy, it’s Donald Trump. He should have known that the $13.4 billion government bailout of the auto industry just put off the inevitable while putting taxpayers at risk. Bailouts and nationalizing whole industries can cripple free markets and has hampered our economic recovery. We need our next president to understand that economic freedom leads to growth and prosperity for all, and that the government should never be in the business of picking winners and losers.

Club for Growth President Chris Chocola

Donald Trump comes across as a personality, not a person….His advisers and he directly did himself a disservice by playing for bombast and not statesman….Donald Trump is the disrespectful candidate for people who disrespect the process. He’ll be rude. He’ll be loud. He’ll be confrontational. And he won’t get the nomination. But along the way, he will speak to the fears and hopes of a lot of people who no longer connect with Washington or trust the government to get it right.

– Erick Erickson

Donald Trump is a progressive. He’s not a conservative. He is a progressive, and you can prove that by the things that he believes in. A progressive believes in high tariffs. A progressives believes the government is the answer. Donald Trump has shown time and time again he believes the government is the problem, and if it is run properly, it is the answer. That’s what a progressive believes.

– Glenn Beck

If I follow your logic, Bill Gates ought to be president of the United States because he’s worth ten times what you are too, and yet when it comes to economics and government he’s an airhead just like you.

– Mark Levin in 2011 on Trump using his business background as a qualifier for his candidacy

[Trump’s announcement speech] is gonna resonate with a lot of people….It was a howl session. But, at the same time, there’s no doubt in my mind…think [Ross] Perot. Think Ross Perot. Remember the reaction people had to Ross Perot.

– Rush Limbaugh

Of course he [Trump] is not a conservative. He was for Nancy Pelosi before he was against Nancy Pelosi. 

– The late Andrew Breitbart in 2011

Trump fills the vacuum left by a political faction that has for years promised its voters it would do things it had no intention of doing – most recently, things like stopping Obamacare and blocking the president’s immigration amnesty – and have governed for seven months on all sorts of other things. As such, his support is best understood as the embodiment of this John Goodman rant from The Gambler. 

– Ben Domenech, The Federalist

Donald Trump is adding to the conversation, pointing out that there's a bipartisan consensus not to build the wall. new

– Michael Needham, Heritage Action

I think it's very hard to win the presidency, and the thing that characterizes both the Sanders campaign and the Trump campaign and the [Ben] Carson campaign is authenticity. The American people know the system isn't working. They are sick of politics as usual. new

– Newt Gingrich

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What You May Not Know About Trump


  • Trump maintained the President Obama birther conspiracy theory longer than most, resurrecting the argument at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference long after the president released his long-form birth certificate. "Now, whether or not that was a real certificate, because a lot of people question it ... I certainly question it. But he didn't do it for Hillary Clinton, he didn't do it for [Arizona Sen.] John McCain, but he did it for me. So in one sense, I'm proud of it. Now all we need to do is find out whether or not it was real." (Huffington Post)

  • Trump called on President Obama to release his college transcripts and his passport in exchange for a $5 million donation to the charity of the president’s choosing. Trump’s objective was to gain insight into what the president listed as his place of birth. (Washington Post)

  • Trump has switched his party affiliation numerous times. In 1987, he registered as a Republican. In 1999 he became an independent. In 2001, he registered as a Democrat. By 2009, he was once again a Republican. When questioned about the many switches, Trump explained, "I wanted to decide which party best suited my philosophy.” (NY Daily News)

  • Trump has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democrats, including to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), among many others. Trump has also donated at least $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation (Washington Post) (Politico).

  • Trump owned the USFL’s New Jersey Generals in the early 1980s. In 2014, he bid on the Buffalo Bills. (Buffalo News)

  • Trump has been inducted into the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame. (WWE)

  • Trump does not like to shake hands. "I think the handshake is barbaric... Shaking hands, you catch the flu, you catch this, you catch all sorts of things." (CNN)

  • Trump was disappointed that now-Secretary of State John Kerry (D-MA) lost the 2004 presidential election. "That was a shame that that race was lost….I'm so upset that he blew it." (CNN)

  • Trump has referred to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as "impressive," and has said it’s unfortunate that she never tried to impeach President George Bush while she was Speaker of the House. "It just seemed like she was going to really look to impeach Bush and get him out of office, which, personally, I think would have been a wonderful thing." (CNN)

  • Trump intends to finance his presidential campaign himself. "I'm using my own money. I'm not using lobbyists. I'm not using donors. I don't care. I'm really rich." (Business Insider)

  • In 1990 The Trump Organization was as much as $8.8 billion in debt, with nearly $1 billion personally guaranteed by Trump. Trump’s company was saved by a bailout pact agreed upon by seventy banks, which allowed Trump to defer $1 billion in debt, and mortgage his properties. Trump himself was forced to sell his yacht, the Trump Shuttle airline, and his stake in a handful of businesses to right his own finances. (The Self-Made Myth: The Truth About How Government Helps Individuals and Businesses Succeed)

  • In 1991, 1992, 2004, and 2009, Trump was forced to put various businesses into bankruptcy. They consist of the Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City, the Trump Plaza Hotel, Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts, and Trump Entertainment Resorts. (The New York Times)(The Law Dictionary)

  • Trump weighed presidential runs in 2004, 2008, and 2012, and a New York gubernatorial run in 2006. (NY Post)
  • At the first presidential debate, Trump said that he would not rule out running as an independent. He further stated that it really depended on who the eventual nominee was, but he expected it would be him. (Time
  • After negotiations with RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, Trump signed a loyalty pledge to support the GOP nominee. (Politico
  • Donald Trump signed a copy of the New York Times with Nancy Pelosi's ascension to Speaker on the cover. He simply put a note on it saying, "You are the greatest!" (IJ Review)
  • Trump said, during the fifth Republican Primary Debate, that he will remain a Republican during and after the primaries and not run as an independent. (Washington Post)
  • Trump will not manage his company should he be elected President. “I would put it in a blind trust. Well, I don't know if it's a blind trust if Ivanka, Don and Eric run it. If that's a blind trust, I don't know. But I would probably have my children run it with my executives and I wouldn't ever be involved because I wouldn't care about anything but our country, anything.” (TIME)

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