Real-estate developer Donald Trump was a rumored presidential candidate long before he burst onto the scene this year.
Indeed, talk-show host Oprah Winfrey asked Trump about a potential White House bid back in 1988. At the time, Trump said he probably wouldn’t run – but didn’t rule out the possibility.
“I do get tired of seeing the country ripped off,” he said. “If it got so bad I would never want to rule it out totally.”
Trump did predict he would win the race if he ran, however.
“I think I’d win. I tell you what: I wouldn’t go in to lose. I’ve never gone in to lose in my life. And if I did decide to do it, I would say I’d have a hell of a chance of winning,” he said then. “I think people are tired of seeing the United States ripped off.”
What was striking is how similar he sounded in that interview compared to today.
Trump frequently complains about other countries “ripping” the US off, for example, and his populist tone bashing free-trade agreements has stayed the same.
“I have tremendous respect for the Japanese people. I mean, you can respect somebody that’s beating the hell out of you,” he said in 1988.
Trump, now the Republican 2016 front-runner, often says near-identical things about Mexico, whose government he frequently accuses of sending criminals across the US border.
“I have great respect for the Mexican people,” he said in July of this year. “We’re talking about a government that’s much smarter than our government.”