For 30 Years, Donald Trump Has Wanted To 'Make America Great Again' He has flirted with running for office since the 1980s. His message has been remarkably similar.
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Donald Trump's Been Saying The Same Thing For 30 Years

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Donald Trump's Been Saying The Same Thing For 30 Years

Donald Trump's Been Saying The Same Thing For 30 Years

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

For decades, Donald Trump played coy about his interest in running for president. But he never shied away from talking politics. And as seemingly erratic as he might be with his rhetoric, his political views have actually remained relatively consistent. Here's NPR's Don Gonyea.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: Listen to the clips - I mean, old clips - and some familiar themes jump right out.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "LARRY KING LIVE")

DONALD TRUMP: I was tired and I think a lot of people are tired of watching other countries ripping off the United States.

GONYEA: This is from a chat with CNN's Larry King in 1987. Trump was 41 years old.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "LARRY KING LIVE ")

TRUMP: They laugh at us behind our backs. They laugh at us because of our own stupidity. And the leaders, I mean - what we have - we have a Persian Gulf situation. You saw what happened today. Billions and billions of dollars are being spent on getting oil for Japan, and they're not paying anything for it. Essentially, they're paying nothing for it.

GONYEA: The specifics of that particular story may be old, but the message from Trump is as clear as it was on the trail in 2016 - other nations take advantage of American generosity. Here's another - 1988, Trump with Oprah.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW")

TRUMP: Kuwait - they live like kings. The poorest person in Kuwait, they live like kings. And yet, they're not paying. We make it possible for them to sell their oil. Why aren't they paying us 25 percent of what they're making? It's a joke.

GONYEA: So vintage Trump is also today's Trump. There are other moments in years past where Trump foresaw a key to his future campaign success. New York-based journalist Glenn Plaskin interviewed Trump for Playboy magazine more than 25 years ago.

GLENN PLASKIN: I asked him who would support a Trump bid for the White House. And back in 1990, he said the working guy would elect me. He likes me. When I walk down the street, those cabbies start yelling out their windows. Well, it is the working guy who is electing him.

GONYEA: The younger Trump would also regularly talk about settling scores with enemies, at one point saying an eye for an eye. Read his Twitter feed, and you'll find out that view hasn't changed. Now in nearly all of these old interviews, Trump denies interest in running for president or other high office while always leaving a bit of wiggle room. This is from 1988 on NBC's "Late Night With David Letterman."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN")

DAVID LETTERMAN: And politics - we talked about this last time - any interest in any kind of appointment or a commission or a position with this administration or something down the road a ways?

TRUMP: I always had...

GONYEA: Trump answers that he's happy doing what he's doing.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN")

LETTERMAN: I'm talking about maybe in eight years, in 12 years.

TRUMP: Well, I'm not sure that you want to see the United States become a winner. Do you want to see the United States become a winner, David?

LETTERMAN: Of course we want to see - the United States is and always has been a winner for my money, Don.

(APPLAUSE)

GONYEA: Donald Trump, 28 years ago, floating a future campaign slogan and maybe an inaugural address.

Don Gonyea, NPR News, Washington.

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