16 of Donald Trump's Most Controversial Statements
Presumptive Republican Nominee Donald Trump has landed in hot water for his comments many times throughout this campaign cycle. Now that the Republican National Convention has begun in Cleveland, Trump has turned to the more concrete work of choosing a running mate and formally accepting the GOP’s nomination. But his past controversies still haunt him, as some Republicans remain doubtful that he can pivot to appeal to a general election audience and beat Hillary Clinton. With one eye on Cleveland and another on November, we revisited some of Trump’s most controversial statements since beginning his campaign:
1. Trump began his campaign over a year ago by memorably stating, "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you. They're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."
2. After Fox News reporter Megan Kelly asked Trump some hard-hitting questions during an August primary debate, Trump criticized, "She gets out, and she starts asking me all kinds of ridiculous questions. And, you know, you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever." Trump later clarified that he was referring to her ears or her nose.
3. In February, former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke had offered some support for Trump's campaign when he wrote on Facebook, "I think he deserves a close look by those who believe the era of political correctness needs to come to an end." When CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Trump whether he would disavow the support, Trump replied, "Just so you understand, I don't know anything about David Duke, OK?" Many commentators, including some of his fellow GOP primary rivals, viewed this as a disqualifying statement, with Sen. Marco Rubio stating, "We cannot be the party that nominates someone who refuses to condemn white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan." Trump eventually blamed his original response on a bad earpiece and told NBC, "I don't mind disavowing anyone. I disavowed Duke the day before at a major conference."
4. As Trump’s popularity rose at the beginning of 2016, Trump praised his supporters, "You know what else they say about my people? The polls, they say I have the most loyal people. Did you ever see that? Where I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay? It’s like incredible."
5. Trump had cited an article by Serge Kovaleski, who suffers from arthrogryposis, which affects joint movement. When Kovaleski did not back up Trump’s claims of Muslim Americans celebrating after 9/11, Trump said, while moving in his arms in a spastic motion, "Uhh I don't know what I said. Uhh I don't remember. He's going like 'I don't remember. Maybe that's what I said.'"
6. Regarding a protester who had been escorted out of his Las Vegas rally, Trump told the crowd, "I'd like to punch him in the face."
7. After Mitt Romney stated concerns over Trump’s candidacy, Trump said at a California campaign event, "I understand losers. You can make a lot of money with losers…[Romney] choked like a dog...He’s a choker...Once a choker, always a choker...And he walks like a penguin onto the stage."
8. Following the November terrorist attacks in Paris, Trump said, reading from a statement, "Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on." Months later, Trump walked back his statement, saying that his administration would perform "extreme vetting" on anyone attempting to enter the country from “territories” with a history of terror.
9. After a gunman killed 49 people in an Orlando gay nightclub, Trump tweeted, "Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!"
10. During a town hall with MSNBC, moderator Chris Matthews asked Trump if there would be punishment for women who attempt to procure abortions after he hypothetically outlawed it. Trump replied, "The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment." Matthews asked him to clarify if he meant punishment for the woman seeking the abortion, and Trump responded, "Yes, there has to be some form." Trump’s campaign later issued a statement clarifying that Trump only intended there to be punishment for the doctor providing the abortion, not the woman.
11. During an Iowa event with the Family Leadership Summit, Trump defended his characterization of Arizona Sen. John McCain, who spent over five years in a Vietnamese prison after his military plane was shot down, as a "dummy." Trump went on to ridicule McCain, saying, "He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured."
12. During a February primary debate in New Hampshire, the candidates were asked if they would bring back torture methods, including waterboarding, for terrorist interrogation. Trump said that he would, adding, "I would bring back waterboarding, and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding." Trump has also called for killing the families of known terrorists, which would be a war crime.
13. After declaring himself the presumptive Republican nominee in April, Trump lashed out against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. To explain Clinton’s primary success, Trump said, "I think the only card she has is the woman's card. She has nothing else going. Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don't think she would get five percent of the vote. The only thing she has got going is the woman's card."
14. In May, after Sen. Ted Cruz’s father released an ad aimed at evangelicals in support of his son’s presidential run, Trump repeated the claims of an old tabloid story against the more senior Cruz. The National Enquirer once claimed that Rafael Cruz had been photographed handing out pro-Fidel Castro materials with Lee Harvey Oswald, John F. Kennedy’s assassin, in 1963. Bringing up the conspiracy theory during a phone interview with Fox, Trump said, "His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald's being -- you know, shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous. What is this, right prior to his being shot, and nobody even brings it up. They don't even talk about that. That was reported, and nobody talks about it."
15. In a profile for Rolling Stone, Trump was quoted as saying about his primary rival Carly Fiorina, "Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!...I mean, she's a woman, and I'm not s'posedta say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?"
16. Trump raised doubts about U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over a civil suit of fraud charges regarding Trump University. In a June interview, Trump said that Curiel had “an absolute conflict” in deciding the case because he was "of Mexican heritage." Following the other statements he has made about combatting illegal immigration, Trump said, "I’m building a wall. It’s an inherent conflict of interest."