Back in the 80s Donald Trump was already known nation wide as as successful business man and a larger than life self-promoter.
During the 1988 presidential campaign, which George Bush senior would eventually win over Michael Dukakis, Trump appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss his plans, should he ever decide to run for president.
Back then, his economic message was almost exactly the same as it is now. All one has to do is to exchange “China“, which Trump frequently casts in the role of America’s most dangerous economic enemy today, with “Japan“. In 1988, the Japanese asset price bubble had not yet burst, and to many Americans it appears as if an ever greater chunk of their prosperity was bing gobbled up by a foreign nation on the other side of the globe.
Here is what Trump said regarding the Japanese threat in 1988:
“We let JAPAN come in and dump everything in our markets. That’s not free trade. If you go to JAPAN right now and try to sell something: forget about it, just forget about it. It’s almost impossible.”
The Japanese bubble of course burst just a few years after Trump made these comments, and the threat coming from Tokio turned out to have been greatly exaggerated.
In his current campaign the Donald frequently, and almost verbatim keeps on repeating the same kind of fear mongering with regard to China:
“But I believe in fair trade, and I will tell you, I have many, many friends heading up corporations, and people that do just business in CHINA, they say it’s virtually impossible. It’s very, very hard to come into CHINA. And yet, we welcome them with open arms.”
His obsession was nicely captured in this little video: