Getting to Know Trump for the 2020 Elections
Who is Donald Trump?
Current job: President of the United States.
Family: Trump and his wife Melania have been married since 2005. They have a 13-year-old son named Barron. Trump also has four other children — Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka, Eric, and Tiffany — from his previous marriages to Ivana Trump and Marla Maples. Trump has nine grandchildren.
Hometown: Queens, New York
Political party: Republican
Previous jobs: Real-estate developer, head of the Trump Organization, host of NBC's "The Apprentice."
Who is Donald Trump's direct competition?
Donald Trump will have to undergo a primary, but for now his primary-tier competition is decidedly ambiguous. Trump has his work cut out for him in the sense that he's got to bring the party together behind him despite an appetite from some Republicans for an alternative.
One INSIDER survey from earlier this year found that while 33% of those who identified as at least slightly conservative backed the president fully and wouldn't consider voting for any challenger, 24% would prefer to back a qualified GOP challenger and 18% would be open to other GOP contenders.
What are Donald Trump's policy positions?
- Trump supports repealing the Affordable Care Act, known as "Obamacare," and replacing it with a "free-market system."
- After Trump came into office, Republicans tried to pass a new healthcare bill, but the proposal failed in the Senate after facing unanimous Democratic opposition and some opposition from Republicans.
- According to the RAND corporation, Trump's proposed healthcare reform, depending on specific elements implemented, would have resulted in 15 million to 25 million fewer people with health insurance in 2018 and a marginal increase in the federal deficit.
- Immigration is Trump's signature issue, and he has long pushed to build a wall along the US' southern border with Mexico.
- The Trump administration has also taken measures to curb the number of legal asylum-seekers allowed into the country.
- Trump has also called for shutting down the US-Mexico border, but he's faced pushback from administration officials who say the US cannot legally shut down the border unless it's for national security reasons.
On climate change:
- Trump withdrew the US from the landmark Paris Climate Accord, whose passage was spearheaded by the Obama administration in 2015.
- The Trump administration has also imposed significant cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and rolled back environmental and health regulations, arguing that they impose a burden on the manufacturing and fossil fuel industries.
On campaign finance/election reform:
- In 2016, Trump criticized his Republican opponents for being financed by special interests and wealthy donors.
- He also said during a debate that the US's campaign-finance laws are "broken."
- In September 2018, Trump signed a bipartisan bill to make Senate campaign donations more transparent.
- Trump and his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, were at the center of a high-profile federal criminal investigation into whether his campaign violated election law when Cohen paid two women shortly before Election Day 2016 in exchange for their silence about affairs they claim to have had with Trump.
- Trump has previously said he is pro-choice, but after mounting his first presidential campaign, he switched his position to pro-life.
- Trump opposes abortions except in the cases of rape, incest, and when the health of the mother is at risk.
- Trump enacted a "gag rule" policy to prohibit family planning clinics that provide abortion services or referrals from receiving $286 million in federal funding under Title X.
- The US threatened to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution in April that aimed to combat rape in war zones because it included references to sexual and reproductive health. The UN subsequently removed the language to appease the US's hardline abortion stance, and the resolution passed.
On LGBTQ rights:
- The Trump administration banned transgender troops from serving in the US military.
- Trump's Justice Department weakened civil-rights protections that bar businesses and other entities from discriminating on the basis of gender or sexual orientation.
- Other federal agencies, like the departments of Education and Health and Human Services, have introduced measures that make it more difficult for LGBTQ individuals to access quality education and safe healthcare.
- Trump has been open about wanting to eliminate Common Core.
- He supports charter schools, saying in April, "I don't call it [charters] an experiment anymore. It's far beyond an experiment."
- Trump said education spending is a priority. But his proposed budget for 2018 cut funding for education by about 13%.
- Trump is a strong advocate of the Second Amendment.
- He supports arming school employees to prevent school shootings, and ending gun-free zones in schools and military bases.
- Trump said he prioritizes nominating federal judges who oppose gun control.
On criminal justice reform:
- Trump campaigned on being a "law and order" president and has signaled support for executing drug dealers.
- Trump signed the First Step Act, a bipartisan bill that aims to curb mandatory minimums and created more educational, job training, and rehabilitative programs for inmates.
- Last year, Trump commuted the sentence of Alice Johnson, a first-time nonviolent drug offender, after Kim Kardashian West asked the president to consider Johnson's case during an Oval Office meeting.
- Trump said he would support for legislation that would allow states to decide whether they want to legalize marijuana.
On health policy:
- The White House is currently waffling on a ban on vaping that Trump promised.
- Trump initially pledged to ban the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes in September.
- But in November, he walked back his statements and wondered whether doing so would cause an increase in counterfeit products.
- "If you don't give it to them, it's going to come here illegally," Trump said of flavored products, and added that a "prohibition" would only increase the use of illegal products.
- "That's the one problem I can't seem to forget," he said. "You just have to look at the history of it. Now, instead of having a flavor that's at least safe, they're going to be having a flavor that's poison."
- Trump is a staunch protectionist, and his administration has levied harsh tariffs against China in retaliation for what Trump said are unfair trade practices.
- The Trump administration is imposing a 10% tariff on $200 billion worth of imports from China.
- The tariff resulted in a tit-for-tat trade war that the president most recently threatened to escalate by hiking the rate up to 25%.
On foreign policy:
- Trump campaigned on ending US military involvement overseas, promising to bring an end to lengthy, costly military engagements.
- The president has struggled to deliver his campaign promises, facing opposition from his advisers and top Republicans in Congress over his desire to pull US troops from Syria and Afghanistan.
- Trump has taken hardline stances against Iran and Venezuela. And after initially sparring with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump has sought a diplomatic approach in attempting to address Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.
- The president recognized Golan Heights as part of Israel through an official proclamation in March 2019. The area was widely viewed as being Syrian territory under Israeli military occupation. After Trump acknowledged it as being part of Israel, the country renamed the region "Trump Heights."
- Trump also formally recognized Jerusalem as being Israel's capital in 2017, and ordered the US embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
- Trump's rhetoric on foreign policy often does not align with his administration's policies. He's spoken out against intervention, yet authorized military strikes against Bashar al-Assad in Syria. He's expressed a desire for warmer relations with Russia, even has his administration has expelled diplomats, shut down Russian diplomatic facilities, and approved weapon's sales to anti-Russian forces in Ukraine.
- Trump signed the Republican Party's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law in 2017.
- The measure cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% and resulted in an estimated $17 billion in tax savings for millionaires in 2018.
- Trump and congressional Republicans said the tax cuts would pay for themselves by fueling job creation and more economic participation.
- There is no evidence that they paid for themselves, but after the bill's passage, American corporations began boosting salaries and bonuses and offered more stock buyback options.
- On jobs and the economy:
- The US economy has seen consistent growth under the Trump administration.
- The president champions bringing manufacturing jobs back to the US.
- An April jobs report showed that in the last two years, the manufacturing sector added employment at a faster pace than the rest of the economy.
- Trump has bragged that he produced "the strongest economy in the history of our nation," but Bloomberg reported that the economy was stronger under all but one of the four Republicans and three Democrats who occupied the White House since 1976.
- Trump directed the creation of a National Spectrum Strategy to more efficiently fuel wireless technology and meet the growing demands for data.
- In December, Trump boasted that he knows technology "better than anyone."
- He has made multiple controversial statements that raised questions about his understanding of basic technological advances.
- In March, he mocked the idea of wind power and said the "noise" from wind turbines "causes cancer."
- After the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed all 157 of its passengers in March, Trump tweeted that airplanes are "becoming too complex to fly," adding that "pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT."
- In 2017, Trump told TIME that he told the Navy they should go back to using steam power instead of digital technology for a new aircraft carrier.
- According to ABC News' White House reporter Tara Palmieri, Trump calls iPads "the flat one."
- In 2018, after Trump tweeted about using Google to read news reports, The New York Times' Maggie Haberman tweeted, "He doesn't use a computer. Someone is doing the googling but not him."
- What are Donald Trump's political successes?
- Trump is the first person to be elected president with no military, legal, or political background.
- His trade policy faces significant criticism, but Trump has also been praised for forcing China to come to the negotiating table.
- Trump's focus on bringing manufacturing jobs back to the US resulted in the manufacturing sector adding employment at a faster pace than the rest of the economy over the last two years.
- In 2018, Trump worked with Congress to pass the SUPPORT Act, which the White House touted as "the single largest legislative package addressing a single drug crisis in history."
- How much money has Donald Trump raised?
- Trump and the Republican National Committee raised a gargantuan $125 million in the third quarter of 2019. This came after a massive haul in the second quarter as well, signaling that his war chest will be significantly more packed this time around than in 2016. Trump has raised more money than any Democratic presidential nominee, and according to The New York Times, he outraised former President Barack Obama in the equivalent period during his 2012 re-election campaign.
Could President Trump beat the Democratic nominee?
Absolutely. Polling consistently demonstrates that the 2020 election will be close, and while the quality of the polling at this stage in the cycle is spotty at best, Donald Trump performs well against a variety of Democratic contenders.
Despite a strong economy, the president has had difficulty getting above water when it comes to his personal approval rating. This presents a favorable playing field, if a weaker candidate than normal under these conditions.
Realistically, if there's a major Democratic contender you can find a poll of Trump beating them and another poll of them beating Trump. At this point in the cycle what makes the most sense it to look at how well Democratic candidates are assembling a coalition that could put them over the top.