POLITICS

Trump Denounced His Campaign Rhetoric Almost Two Decades Before Running For President

A 1999 interview shows just how much he's flip-flopped on key issues.

It’s no secret that Donald Trump has flip-flopped on a number of hot-button issues throughout his time in the public eye, but there’s one 1999 interview that encapsulates his changing positions particularly well. 

The Republican presidential nominee spoke with Tim Russert on “Meet The Press” 17 years ago while he was considering a presidential run. In the interview, Trump chastised then-presidential candidate Pat Buchanan for appealing to the “staunch right, wacko vote.”  

Years later, now that Trump himself is running for president, his conversation with Russert is especially interesting, as certain aspects of Buchanan’s candidacy have come to define Trump’s own campaign. Trump, who called Buchanan “inflammatory, outrageous, and controversial” in his book The America We Deserve, has also built his campaign along similar lines. Trump began his campaign calling Mexicans “rapists” and “criminals,” has alienated African-Americans with his tone-deaf remarks about “the blacks” and even suggested banning Muslims from the United States. 

Buchanan’s platform was also centered around issues like anti-globalization and a broad promise to put Americans first ― both of which Trump has taken up as well. His proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall has been a linchpin of his campaign, as has the slogan he borrowed from President Ronald Reagan, “Make America Great Again.” 

In addition to embracing an ideology that aligns with Buchanan’s, Trump made other observations and declarations during the interview that undermine his current values and behavior. 

During the Russert interview, Trump said his views on abortion were “strongly pro-choice.” His pro-abortion rights position, stated so firmly during the interview, has changed drastically. The GOP nominee mischaracterized late-term abortions in graphic terms during the final presidential debate and once suggested “some sort of punishment” for women who end their pregnancy. 

Trump also discussed his controversial playboy reputation with women during the interview. Trump told Russert, “I am single and I do go out with women and I do respect and adore women.” But the fact that more than a dozen women have come forward in recent weeks accusing him of sexually abusive behavior ― following the leak earlier this month of a 2005 hot-mic recording of Trump talking about groping women ― suggests otherwise.

Hear some of Donald Trump’s comments in the video above. 

This video was produced by Liz Martinez and Gemma Sapwell, and edited by Lee Porcella. 

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

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