Trump says Politicians "Don't Have a Clue"

Jul 24, 2015

These are the remarks, as delivered, by Donald Trump in his first visit to Iowa after declaring his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president, June 16, 2015.

I want to thank you all for being here. This has been a wild day. This has been a really wild day. So, I was in New York. We had a tremendous crowd at Trump Tower -- packed. In fact, they had to lock the doors. There were so many people standing outside on Fifth Avenue, I guess we had over 5,000 people, and people outside trying to get in. And, there’s something going on. There’s something going on. Because they look, and you look at this crowd, they look and see what’s happening with our country. And, I thought that what we’ll do tonight is we’ll talk for a few minutes and then we do, and Chuck loved this idea, we’ll do questions. We’ll make it a town-hall. Does that sound good? OK? Because I got very good reviews on the speech I made today, but, you know, honestly, you don’t want to hear a speech. You want to hear like let’s get some questions. And, I’d like to do that. To me, that would be fun, especially from you folks. Because you know they talk about the people of Iowa, and the people of Iowa they’re hard-working people. That’s how we define them, that they love the country. They love the country. So, I love being here. I’ve been here a lot lately. I mean, I’ve been here. I made a lot of friends. I had friends before I even started this whole thing from the area. But it’s a great area. It’s a vibrant area. It’s just amazing people, and they really have, these are people that made the country great. This is where it begins, so I want to thank you very much.

Now, we have some interesting things. I was here last week, and I was here about three weeks ago, and I may this time. You know, I was very disappointed that our last candidate didn’t bring it home. Does that make sense? Didn’t bring it home. So something happened. Something happened with Mitt. And, it wasn’t good. It wasn’t good at all. For some reason they thought they were going to win, and they didn’t win, and they choked and something. And it wasn’t good, and it’s no different than sports or anything else. But, I used to say, I’d say, why aren’t you, like, on the talk shows? And, why aren’t you going to Jay Leno and Letterman and to all of the shows that were on at the time? And, Obama, whether you like it or not, he did all of that, and he ended up winning an election that should have never, ever, in a million years have been won. Should never have been won. And, we don’t want to see that happen again. You just can’t let that happen again. You just can’t. It’s just too much.

And one of the reporters, a nice reporter actually, from the Register said, “Well, you know, Mitt was a wealthy guy and it didn’t really resonate with the voters and what do you think about that Mr. Trump? Do you think you’ll resonate with the voters?” Now, I looked and I said, what do you mean he’s wealthy? I have a store that’s worth more than him, which was crazy. And I said that off the record. And the reporter was very nice actually and said to me, “Mr. Trump, you got to do me a favor.” What? “Could I use that quote? Do you mind if I use that quote?” And, I said, you know what, I don’t care. Use it. Who cares? What difference does it make? And it ends up being a headline in the Des Moines Register, Trump says the Gucci store, it’s the Gucci on Fifth Avenue, is worth more than Romney. And then the next day they call me. And this is the press, and they were going to do a big hit on me because they said, “Ho, ho, ho, I’ll bet you that store is not worth a million dollars. And, therefore Trump, let’s say Mitt is at two hundred, and therefore Trump is not telling the truth.”  So, I said, well, I don’t know exactly what it’s worth but it’s worth a lot. It’s the best location there is, probably in the world. The Ginza Strip was second, that’s in Japan. And I said it’s the best location. And I have the best block. And I have the right side of the street. I have the best corner, and I’m next to Tiffany. It’s worth a lot. They said, “Well we don’t think it’s anywhere near two hundred (million).” I said well have you checked? No, but we’re going to.  And, they went out, and they started calling or retaining or doing something with different real estate people in Manhattan. And they ended up writing a story - it’s worth $400 million to a billion four. Do you believe that? Can you believe that? And I said, see, I’m telling you. I do tell the truth. I happen to be a truthful person. And you saw the, actually, when I saw the story Chuck loved it. He thought it was great. But when I saw it, I said, I’m not sure I like that story. ‘Cause they, you know that was the whole thing. The headline was all about that as opposed to other things like how bad Obamacare is and a million other things that I spoke about. But Chuck actually liked it, and he turned out to be right because the next day they did a story. They said, he’s right. I like that, when the newspapers do that. 

Donald Trump speaks to a crowd at Drake University in Des Moines
Credit John Pemble / IPR

But a couple of the things I said today, and I mean it so, so strongly. We don’t have victory in this country anymore. You know, when was the last time we had a victory? We don’t win against China in trade. We don’t win against Mexico. At the border, certainly, I mean, they’re sending everybody over, just walking through like its water, like it’s a sieve. And they’re killing us, by the way, economically, just killing us. We don’t win with Japan, which has now got a real leader and they’re knocking the hell out of the yen, their currency, and making it very, very hard to, just very, very hard to compete. I tell the story about a friend of mine, recently, who is a big excavator. He’s an excavating contractor, very big. And he always bought Caterpillar tractors. Always bought Caterpillar. And he calls me up a number of weeks ago, and he said, “You know, Donald, I feel so badly.” Why? “Well, I just put in a big order of tractors.” I said, did you buy Cats? He said, “No. I bought Komatsu.” And, Komatsu, it’s fine. It’s a good tractor. I know it well. He said, “It was impossible for Caterpillar to compete because Japan has brought down the yen, their currency, to such a low level. And I owe it to my family, and my company, and my employees, and I had no choice. And, I ordered all Komatsu tractors.” And I said, that’s emblematic what’s happening to our country.  And we have nobody to stop Japan from doing that. And we have nobody to stop China from doing that. And Mexico is becoming the new China as far as the United States is concerned. Auto plants are opening up all over Mexico. They’re making cars, not for Mexico. They’re making the cars for the United States. They take Mexican labor, we spend money in Mexico. The United States gets nothing. There’s no tax at the border. There’s no anything. In fact, I had an idea. In Mexico you could take the cars and trucks and we could have the illegals drive them right through the border into our country and then they can disappear. It’s true. It’s true. And that’ll probably be next. They’ll be thinking about that.

It’s terrible what’s happening. We have leadership that’s incompetent. We have people that are incompetent.  And, I have nothing against Mexico, or China, or Japan. I said today, you know, when was the last time you saw an American car in Tokyo? When did you ever see a Chevrolet in Tokyo?  Do you think there’s such a thing as a Chevrolet in Tokyo? And yet they send their cars over by literally the millions over a period of time, by the millions.  And we’re foolish.  You look at our deficits. You look at our deficits with countries, individual countries. So all of that has to be renegotiated.

And politicians don’t have a clue. And even if they do, they’re controlled by lobbyists. They’re controlled by donors. And they’re controlled by special interests. And I say it all the time, politicians are all talk, no action. Whether it’s Benghazi or the email mess with Hillary… You know, they’re so indignant. I’m almost more disappointed in Republican politicians. And even the people running for office. And I watch them all the time. They say, the sun will rise, the moon will set. I mean, they walk around on the stage talking about the sun, the moon, the rain, the weather. I say, people just want a job.  They want a job. They want people that know what they’re doing.

But, I tell the story about the Komatsu tractors because that’s really where it’s at. We’ve lost our manufacturing, not because of the product because we make a better product, but you just can’t do it. I ordered 4,000 televisions recently. Can’t buy them in this country, it’s all in South Korea.  And yet, South Korea, they make a fortune. But we protect them. We have thousands of soldiers there. We spend fortunes. Every time North Korea, every time they start getting a little bit rugged, you know like we’re going to blast South Korea off the planet, we start up those battleships, those destroyers. We start up those aircraft carriers. We get our aircraft ready. We head over there, costs us millions of dollars. You know, when you turn on one of those aircraft carriers, you go like this - it’s about a million dollars down the tubes. So, I ordered 4,000 television sets from South Korea. They have LG. They have Samsung. They have all of them. And it’s not like we make them. They’re making a fortune. We get nothing. We get nothing. I like them. They’re very nice people. We get nothing.

Saudi Arabia makes a billion dollars a day. Think of - that’s big money, seriously. Even for Trump that’s a lot of money. They make a billion dollars a day with their oil. You look at Yemen, now I called, I’ve called a lot of things right. Including a lot of deals right. And a lot of markets right. And I’m good at that. I like it. I have an instinct. I really think I maybe have an instinct. Maybe I shouldn’t talk about it because you know when you start talking too much about your instinct, all of sudden you don’t have the instinct anymore. But I have called that right. There was a story in Reuters, in fact I had it in the kit today for the press to see. There was a story in Reuters from 2004 that said Trump said essentially, stay out of Iraq. At the time, people hit me a little bit. The Bush Administration sent an envoy to see me, like, can I cool it? You know, because, I said you’re making a terrible mistake.

Now, first of all, I have to tell you, and the colonel will know this, I am the biggest guy for military on the planet. I want to take care of our vets. I helped create the Vietnam memorial in New York. And to this day, you know I’ve done a lot of buildings. I’ve done a lot of things, and I get a lot of credit for the ice rink in Central Park. I’ve never been so thanked as the Vietnam War Memorial that, I was really working with a good group of guys, but I was very responsible for that in lower Manhattan. And, every time, if I’m on the street, which isn’t that often, unfortunately, I like to be on the street more, but the vets come up to me and say thank you so much. The Viet Nam vets, because they have been treated badly. But all vets are treated badly. They’re treated like second and third class citizens. And it’s disgusting because they’re great, great, heroes. These are great people and we have to treat them good. And that’s going to happen.

Donald Trump speaking in Des Moines, June 16, 2015.
Credit John Pemble / IPR

So, I look at what we’re doing, and I’m looking at different things on television and watching and I see what’s going on with Iraq, and I said in 2004 don’t do it. And it’s literally identical to what happened. I mean, you’ve got to get it. I’d give it to you. I’m proud of it, because I love predicting what’s going to happen, even if it’s in this case catastrophic. I said if you do it, you’ll knock out Iraq. Iran will take over the Middle East. You will destabilize the Middle East, and lots of bad people, we didn’t have a name called ISIS at that time, will end up taking over the oil. But nobody listened to me. And that’s fine. You know, they have to make up their decisions. They have to make up their mind. And they went ahead, and they then totally destabilized the Middle East. It’s a mess. It’s a mess like there’s never been. And ISIS came out of that mess. Now, I will say this, once they destabilized, and once, and you have to understand Iraq and Iran for just forever they’ve been going like this -- ten feet this way, ten feet that way. This is for years, and years, and decades and just boom. You know, they used the gas. They use all sorts of horrible things, but it was just a little bit one way, the other. Then they get tired, they go away for five years, and then they start fighting again. Well, we decapitated one of those sides. So the Middle East got just shattered, and that’s what happened.

A lot of bad decisions. Not only by Obama, but then Obama made the bad decision of getting out. It’s almost, we shouldn’t have been there, but once we were there we shouldn’t have left so easily. Shouldn’t have left. And, if you remember, and now I am the one that said don’t go in, but then we were there and I said, look, if we’re going to be there, there is no Iraq. And you see that with what’s going on with the Humvees. Two-thousand three-hundred Humvees lost. We give them to them. You know how many that is? And I said today, maybe we lose one or two. How do you lose 2,300? So, we supply our so-called ally. And it’s not that they don’t have guts. They don’t care because they’re not fighting for anything that they care about. There essentially is no Iraq. There is no Iraq. And it’s very sad, because of all the money. Think of it, $2 trillion, thousands of great young people killed, and wounded warriors all over. And these are great people. These are amazing. I work with them a lot. These are unbelievable people. They left for a place and they come home and they are missing arms, and legs, and worse. And, we have nothing. We have nothing. And today, the big headline coming over I see is that Iraq is meeting with Iran as we speak. They’re meeting with Iran. Iran is going to take over Iraq, but they’ll never have to fire a shot. So, I was right about that.

But if you remember, and I’ve been saying it on many of the shows over the last four or five years. I said listen, when we leave it’s going to be a disaster. Because somebody thought it was going to be like a wonderful democracy. They’re going to go on ballots. They’re going to vote for these people. It’s a different world. It’s a different world. But, I said "when we leave, keep the oil." Did anybody ever hear me say that over the years? I said, keep the oil. And certain people say, oh, that’s terrible for him to say that. He’s a terrible human being. Think how terrible that is? Keep the oil. That’s a sovereign country. Sovereign country? It’s a mess. Keep the oil. You know who has the oil now? ISIS has the oil. ISIS. ISIS has the oil. And ISIS is rich. And what we should do right now is go blast the hell out of that oil. That’s what we should do. Thank you.

And, I’ve been saying this you know for… better step in there really quickly.  They’re amazing. But you go in there blast the hell out of them. You kill the devil at the head. You kill the devil at the head. You take away its money. They have so much money. ISIS has so much money. And, by the way, Iran is taking over the rest. They’re taking over the rest. We got nothing. Trillions, thousands of lives, wounded warriors, we got nothing. And it was exactly what I said was going to happen in that article from 2004. So they’ve been putting a lot of pressure on me, “Oh, you don’t really know. You’re just saying that.” I said, alright. So tonight I’m doing Bill O’Reilly, alright. It’s on. I like Bill O’Reilly. No, he’s a sharp guy. He is. It’s great. And he would say, “C’mon, you got to tell me. C’mon.” I said, you know, it’s time. I got to really say it. I can’t keep saying I don’t want to tell you, because if I win, I want, because obviously, it’s not as good now as it would have been if they didn’t know this, right? We agree?

General George Patton and General MacArthur are spinning in their grave every time they hear President Obama announce exactly what we’re doing. Spinning in their grave. You know, when they got that upper mid-level accounting person the other day? Instead of being quiet about it, and waiting a year and getting fifty of them, they made such a big deal out of it that all the other people that they were looking to get all flee, and they’re just all over the place. Just be quiet. Just be quiet. But they can’t do that. The colonel knows what I’m talking about. They can’t do that, because they’re politicians. Politicians. They’re killing this country. They’re killing it. So, I said, instead of going in and fighting like crazy for the towns and all the areas, and I say, it’s simple. Actually, Bill O’Reilly actually said to me, “Ah.” That’s pretty good for Bill. You know Bill’s not easy. He’s a smart guy. He goes, “Ah.” Wait till you see the reaction. You’ll go home watch it later. He sort of, I think, liked it.  You know, he doesn’t want to play his cards. He’s better than Obama at playing cards, believe me. But I said, knock the hell out of those four or five primary places. You take away the oil. You take away the wealth. You take away the money. They’re building a hotel now in Syria. ISIS is building a hotel. Do you believe they are in the hotel business? They’re competing with me! And they get their money from the oil. They got so much money. Kill the oil. And it’s easier than going into these cities that have been taken over. And when you get there what do you have? Nothing. What do you have? You retake a city by the time you’re back, I mean it’s going back and forth. You got no buildings there. You’ve got holes in every building that are five feet wide, I mean, you got nothing. You go in and take the oil. We should have never given it up. They should have listened to me. Never given it up. And if they didn’t give it up, if they didn’t give it up, you wouldn’t have ISIS right now. ISIS is wealthy. And we can take that wealth away from them. And believe me, it’s easier than what these idiots are planning. They want to go in and attack this area, attack that. When they get it, they don’t have anything. Take the oil.

Trump's campaign theme is "Make America Great Again."
Credit John Pemble / IPR

So, we have an incompetent president. We have politicians controlled by all the wrong people, including special interests. And I’m running for president as a businessman that doesn’t need money. I don’t need campaign contributions. I don’t need money to fly in. I fly in very nicely. You’d all be impressed, actually. Even I’m impressed. I would never have thought this was going to happen. But I don’t need money. And when I tell Ford to go back to the United States and not build their $2.5 billion plant in Mexico, and when I tell other people to do other things, and when I tell Japan to stop devaluing their currency so that Caterpillar and our companies can compete, and when I tell China that if you don’t start behaving, we’re going to throw a tariff on you like you throw on us. Because, you know, I don’t know if you know, but China, it’s a one-way street. It’s a one-way street. China is taxing us. And I told that story today so most of you heard it. But a friend of mine can’t get his product in there. They end up sending it back, and then he goes back, and they end up bidding, they don’t call it a tax, they call it a tariff - you know, it sounds better, right? In the meantime, they send their stuff. And, by the way, I buy a lot of Chinese product. The reason is, because what they do to, it’s like my friend with the Komatsu. I run a big business. You know, I want to, you know, do right for myself, for my family, for my employees, for everybody. But, it’s unfair what they do. And the thing that’s unfair is that their leaders are smarter than our leaders. That’s the only thing. You know, I’m a big free-trader. I believe in free trade. The problem with free trade. One problem. You need smart leaders. You need people that know what they do. You can’t have incompetent leaders. This trade pact is a disaster. Now, I said it was no good for a different reason. Now they’re starting to think about it. But, I said you can’t approve this trade pact. And, by the way, so far it hasn’t been approved. Sort of interesting. But they’re going back for second cracks. For a number of reasons. Number one, Obama is a lousy negotiator. Terrible. Number two, you know you look at negotiator --Bergdahl. Everyone knows Bergdahl? We get a traitor named Sergeant Bergdahl. Six people killed trying to get him back. Killed. Killed. Not wounded. Not hurt a little bit. Killed going after him. Six people, as of today, killed, trying to get him back. We get this traitor named Sergeant Bergdahl and they get five terrorist leaders, killers, who are trying to kill us all right now. They’re all back on the battlefield. Who makes deals like this? Who would do it? And they knew about Bergdahl before the deal was made. Came out. They sent generals and colonels, and I mean either that or they’re really dumb. But they knew about it because the soldiers all knew about it. And the soldiers said, yeah, I spoke to the colonel. I spoke to the general. I told them. I told them. I told them. That was all before the deal. And they still made the deal. So I call Obama the five for one president. That’s the kind of a deal we had. So we get the shaft on every deal.

Now, I said the deal’s no good because they’re not covering currency manipulation. And that’s how China and Japan, and most of these countries, that’s their single greatest weapon. They covered other things, but they didn’t cover the big weapon -- currency manipulation. Now, China was pretty much finished, I thought, about two years ago with their manipulation of the currency. But then what happened is that with all the problems the United States has, how about GDP, gross domestic product? Last week, it went below zero. That’s impossible. You look at these other countries they’re up six, seven, eight points, 12 points, 11 points. GDP is below zero. That means we’re becoming smaller, because our jobs aren’t here. Our manufacturing isn’t here. It’s going to a lot of other countries. Not only China, a lot of other countries. Everybody that deals with us beats us. Because we have political hacks and we have people that make campaign contributions and they get jobs. And that’s what we have. And with these other countries, they use their best, their smartest, their finest, their toughest, their meanest, their best negotiators. We don’t have a chance.

So, I said I’m running for president. Because, you know, I’ve made a lot of money with China. I bet, I tell you what, I’ve made a fortune beating China. I beat them. I own the Bank of America building, a big chunk. I made some great deals with China, and you can beat them. They’re very beatable. By the way, they can’t believe they can get away with it. Yeah, I have a lot friends that are from China. I sell apartments for millions and millions of dollars, am I supposed to dislike them? I have a lot of friends that are from China. They can’t believe they get away. You know, they tell me, Donald, I don’t believe that we’re getting away. They didn’t know I was going to be running for president when they said this, by the way. But they can’t believe. So, I respect them. I think it’s good. We just need our, we just need the right people. We can make our country great again. Now, my whole theme is, make America great again. It’s very simple. Make America great again. We can make America great again. We have this enormous group of people. We have enormous potential, but we can’t do it unless we have the right people leading us.

When you look at the southern border and you look at people pouring in by the hundreds of thousands, and I said it today, and somebody said oh, that’s not nice. I said "of course, it’s common sense." I met border guards recently. It was at a wedding at one of my clubs. You know, whenever anyone gets married, if I’m around the club, I go. ‘Cause everyone’s happy. I’m happy. They’re happy. And two of the people at the wedding were border guards. I mean real, the real deal border guards. They were actually like right along the border, the southern border. And, I said, this is great. This is much better than seeing the bride. I don’t know who the hell the bride is. I’m seeing the bride, great. She’s beautiful, wonderful. I was actually more interested in the border guards. Can you believe it? And these two were rough guys. They were rough looking guys. Good looking, strong, rough guys. And I said, how bad is it? They said, bad, Mr. Trump. It’s really bad. And I said what kind of people are coming over? And this is really common sense, if you think about it. They said, we’re getting really bad people. Now, think of it. If you’re Mexico, you’re not sending your best people over here. You’re not sending, you know, the happily married couple that lives down the street that is wonderful. We’re getting killers. We’re getting drug dealers. We’re getting rapists. And we’re also getting, I’m sure, some good people. But these guys lay out a scenario to me that was really bad. And they come into this country, we don’t send them back, and we got to live with them. They don’t only come from Mexico, by the way, they come from all over South America, and Latin America. And they probably can start coming from the Middle East. So, we are just being hurt so badly. And, I say, I would build a wall, bigger, better, stronger than any wall. Nobody comes in illegally. And I build great buildings, believe me. I’ll build the greatest wall, and I’ll do it under budget and ahead of schedule, and I’ll have Mexico pay for it. I’ll have Mexico pay. I watched a couple of really stupid people today. I’m not a, you know they were talking about the wall. You know, like George Will types. This George Will is the worst. And they’re… He’s stupid. But they were talking about different aspects, “You can’t get them to do that.” And one of the groups was saying, “You can’t get Mexico to pay. How foolish of Mr. Trump to think that Mexico…” They’re making a fortune with us. We could cut them off. They’d be in such trouble. They’re making a fortune. And I’m watching this stupid person on television today saying how bad I am, although they did say I was brilliant, that was good. That solved, that did solve all other problems. But, they’re saying how bad I am. And, “Can you imagine,” he said, “Mexico is going to pay? How stupid is that?” Trust me folks, they’ll pay. They’ll pay.

So, in a nutshell, I’m running for president. If I win… If I win, we will, guaranteed, guaranteed, make America great again. We will build up our military. We will take care of our vets better than anybody takes care of their vets. We will repeal Obamacare and replace it with something much better for everybody. And, we’re going to have a great country again. It’s very simple, very simple.

So, I love being with you folks… Let’s do some questions…