Billionaire real estate tycoon and TV personality Donald Trump just announced he will be running for president.
"I will be the greatest jobs president," Trump declared from New York, where he announced his bid in a speech that been highly critical of Obama and China.
Although Trump is running as a Republican, in the past he has also donated heavily to Democratic causes and politicians, most prominently toward the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee of New York. Likewise, Trump's views on the issues have evolved over time. His current takes on health care, taxes, and abortion are dramatically different from the views he espoused in his 2000 book The America We Deserve. And while his contemporary views on issues like immigration are decidedly conservative, he disagrees with other Republicans on topics such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and cutting Medicare spending.
Mexican immigrants are "taking your jobs," but we should let in Europeans
Trump’s stance against immigration reform seems to be mostly motivated by political considerations. In a 2013 speech at the Conservative Political Action Committee, Trump called immigration reform a "suicide mission" for Republicans, suggesting that it would merely increase the number of Democratic voters. Plus, he warned, Mexican immigrants are "taking your jobs and you better be careful."
Our government now imports illegal immigrants and deadly diseases. Our leaders are inept.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 5, 2014
At the same time, however, Trump stirred controversy by advocating for easier paths to immigration for European migrants, whom he described as "tremendous" and "hardworking."
His comments drew criticism from other politicians, including chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Rubén Hinojosa. "His claims that European immigrants should have an easier immigration process than others is at best an ill-informed economic myth and at worst, racist rhetoric," Hinojosa said.
TPP is a "bad, bad deal"
Unlike some of his Republican peers, Trump is firmly against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade deal proposed between the US and several Asian countries that has been in negotiation since 2009. In particular, Trump has contended that TPP will hurt American businesses and would "send even more jobs overseas."
Recently, Trump teamed up with Americans for Limited Government, a conservative advocacy group, to launch a radio ad urging against fast-tracking the deal. Trump criticized other Republican politicians for "turning their backs on American workers and businesses" by supporting TPP.
Instead of TPP, Trump has proposed his own version of a trade deal. To force companies to provide more American jobs, Trump has argued that American companies manufacturing overseas or in Mexico should pay a 35 percent tax in order to ship their products back into the US market.
Opposes Common Core; thinks education should be local
Trump has stated in an interview that he "absolutely" thinks educational curricula should be determined at the local level, rather than with national standards like Common Core. "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."
This puts Trump squarely in opposition to Republican Jeb Bush, who has continued to champion Common Core despite misgivings among much of the conservative base.
Believes wind turbines are "destructive," backs war for oil
Earlier this June, Trump lost a case against the Scottish government, which he accused of illegally licensing an experimental wind farm to be built near his golf resort in Aberdeenshire. Previously, Trump tried — and failed — to block another wind farm from being built on the Shetland Islands off the coast of Scotland.
Despite his loss, Trump's organization issued a statement maintaining his opposition to the "destructive proliferation of wind turbines" around the world. Trump also opposes other renewable energy sources, such as solar power.
Instead of focusing on renewables, Trump has, in the past, suggested that the US steal oil fields from countries in the Middle East as "spoils" of war.
He has a secret plan to defeat ISIS (but not ISIL)
Trump claims to have a plan to fight ISIS. He just won’t tell us what it is.
In a recent interview on Fox News, Trump declined to specify his plan for dealing with the terrorist group, citing a desire for surprise and secrecy. "If I run, and if I win, I don’t want the enemy to know what I’m doing," Trump stated. All we know is that Trump’s plan, whatever it is, will defeat ISIS "quickly and effectively." And that it’s "foolproof."
That said, don’t make the mistake of calling the group ISIL. President Obama did, and Trump sure noticed. Despite the fact that many sources — including conservative blogger and activist Pamela Geller — have used the acronym ISIL, Trump thinks that Obama is "not a good person" for doing so.
He once suggested a one-time 14.25 percent tax on the rich
In The America We Deserve, Trump advocated for a one-time 14.25 percent tax on individuals and trusts valued in excess of $10 million. His goal for the resulting revenue was to help pay off the national debt and support entitlement programs such as Social Security.
Flip-flop on healthcare: wants to "repeal" Obamacare
Trump’s position has changed over the years. Back in 2000, he supported universal health care as a national necessity: "I'm a conservative on most issues but a liberal on this one. We should not hear so many stories of families ruined by healthcare expenses." He suggested that the US model its health-care system on Canada’s, arguing that the ability to treat more patients would be worth risking lower salaries for doctors.
More recently, however, with Obamacare seen as anathema to the right, Trump has come down against universal healthcare. He has called Obamacare a "lie, a filthy lie" and suggested that Congress repeal it as soon as possible and replace it with something "far less expensive — both for the people and for the country." In particular, he claimed that under Obamacare, people's insurance deductibles went "through the roof," and that coverage was hard to find.
Switched from pro-choice to pro-life
Since 2011, Trump has identified himself in interview and at conferences as pro-life. This wasn’t always the case, as Trump has previously written in 2000 that despite qualms, he supported "a woman’s right to choose."
Trump acknowledges that he used to be pro-choice, until he heard anecdotes from friends who, after delivering an unwanted baby, found their child to be the "apple of [their] eye." The switch was greeted with praise but also skepticism from conservative bloggers, who found it difficult to reconcile Trump’s traditional values with his serial monogamy and playboy lifestyle.
Opposes cuts to Social Security and Medicare
At a recent Republican leadership summit in New Hampshire, Trump criticized other Republicans — including Chris Christie, Scott Walker, and Jeb Bush — who want to "do a big number" on Social Security and Medicaid. Trump objecting to cutting those programs, saying, "It’s not fair to the people that have been paying in for years."
Trump instead suggests that by minimizing outsourcing and increasing the number of American jobs, the budget issue with Medicare would "take care of itself."
Believes that vaccines cause autism … but is still pro-vaccine
I am being proven right about massive vaccinations—the doctors lied. Save our children & their future.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2014
In an interview with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, Trump identified himself as a "huge fan" of vaccines, but suggested that current vaccine doses were too "massive," leading to "horrible autism." Most of his reasoning appeared to based on anecdotal evidence of his friends, since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has emphasized again and again that vaccines do not cause autism.
While his stance against vaccines has been seen as merely another ploy for publicity, Trump later reiterated his point on Twitter, saying he’s "gotten many letters from people fighting autism thanking me for stating how dangerous" vaccines are. "The FDA should immediately stop heavy dose vaccinations and you will see a huge decrease in children with autism."
Critical of campaign fundraising, likes rich people self-financing
Trump claims he will fund his campaign entirely out of his own pocket.
"I don’t need a super PAC, because I’ll spend my own money," Trump stated in an interview. "The problem with this country is, no politician makes a legitimate decision because they’re controlled by their donors and by their super PACs, and also they’re controlled by lobbyists."
However, it seems unlikely that Trump will advocate for campaign finance reform: he was quick to take advantage of the McCutcheon decision, which lifted campaign donation limits on free speech grounds. Less than a month after the decision, Trump was among the billionaire donors who had already spent past the prior limits.
A birther — but also about Ted Cruz
One of Trump’s most politically popular stances is also his silliest. During the 2012 election cycle, Trump was an avid "birther," questioning whether President Obama really was born in the US (he was). According to a Public Policy Polling survey, Trump led the Republican pack in early April 2011, with 26 percent of the vote.
All was great for Trump, until the White House released the president’s birth certificate in late April. PPP surveys after this date find Trump polling at a measly 8 percent of the vote — except with far-right birthers, who stated that they would not vote for a candidate who affirmed Obama’s US citizenship. Within this fringe group, he had 37 percent favorability.
Luckily, Trump has found a way to keep his birther momentum going: this election season, he has focused his gaze on Ted Cruz, who was born in Canada. Although seemingly everyone else besides Trump — including people who actually engage in legal scholarship for a living — maintain that Cruz is eligible to run thanks to his American mother, this doesn’t seem to faze Trump, who has questioning Cruz’s standing for the past two years.