election special 2016

Here Are All the Insane Things You’ve Probably Forgotten About Trump’s Campaign

Raymond Pettibon, No Title, (I spent ayll…), 2016 Illustration: Raymond Pettibon/Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York

The Donald Trump Seduction Method

Ted Cruz

Trump on Cruz, February 20: “Lying #Ted Cruz just came out with a sneak and sleazy robocall. He holds up the Bible, but in fact is a true lowlife pol!”

Cruz on Trump, March 24: “Donald, you’r ea sniveling coward.”

Cruz endorsement, September 23: “After many months of careful consideration, of prayer and searching my own conscience, I have decided that on Election Day, I will vote for the Republican nominee Donald Trump.”

Marco Rubio

Trump on Rubio, February 26: “Lightweight choker Marco Rubio looks like a little boy onstage. Not presidential material!”

Rubio on Trump, March 4: “Donald Trump has been perhaps the most vulgar — no, I don’t think ‘perhaps’­ — the most vulgar person to ever aspire to the presidency.”

Rubio endorsement, May 27: “He campaigned and the voters chose him. I respect that process. And so I’m going to support him. I’m going to vote for him.”

Ben Carson

Trump on Carson, November 12, 2015: “It’s in the book that he’s got a pathological temper. That’s a big problem because you don’t cure that … as an example: child molesting. You don’t cure these people. You don’t cure
a child molester. There’s no cure for it. Pathological.”

Carson on Trump, November 13, 2015: “ ‘Pray for him.”

Carson endorsement, March 11: “Well, first of all, we buried the hatchet … Some people have gotten the impression that Donald Trump is this person who is not malleable, who does not have the ability to listen, and to take information in and make wise decisions. And that’s not true. He’s much more cerebral than that.” About the child-molester charge, he said on March 16, “You have to admit, to some degree, it did work. A lot of people believed him.”

Chris Christie

Trump on Christie, December 7, 2015: “Look, here’s the story: the George Washington Bridge, he knew about it.”

Christie on Trump, January 27: “What’s that tell you about what we can expect if things go sideways when you go into the Oval Office? What are you going to do, just go upstairs to the residence and say ‘I’m not playing’? You know, ‘Vladimir Putin isn’t being nice to me, I’m not going to return his phone call.’ ‘The press isn’t being nice to me, I’m not going to hold any more press conferences.’ Basically this is like a 13-year-old argument.”

Christie endorsement, February 26: “I will lend my support between now and November in any way for Donald.”

Carly Fiorina

Trump on Fiorina, September 9, 2015: “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 supposed to say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?”

Fiorina on Trump, November 12, 2015: “Anyone can turn a multimillion-dollar inheritance into more money, but all the money in the world won’t make you as smart as Ben Carson.”

Fiorina endorsement, September 8: “We must have President Trump — we can’t have President Clinton.” (Fiorina has since retracted her endorsement.)

Rand Paul

Trump on Paul, August 10, 2015: “Truly weird Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky reminds me of a spoiled brat without a properly functioning brain.”

Paul on Trump, January 25: “Donald Trump is a delusional narcissist and an orange-faced windbag. A speck of dirt is way more qualified to be president.”

Paul endorsement, August 2: “ I will support the nominee.”

The Donald Trump Voter-Seduction Method

After Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012, Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus declared, “By the year 2050, we’ll be a majority-minority country … The RNC cannot and will not write off any demographic or community or region of this country.” Here’s how the 2016 GOP nominee tried to make inroads with various Democratic-leaning demographics.

“I’m a negotiator like you folks … Is there anybody that doesn’t renegotiate deals in this room?”

The Blacks
“You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed — what the hell do you have to lose?”

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best … They’re sending people that have lots of problems … They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

“If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS’s ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president because this would not have happened.”

“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 is going on.”

“If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband, what makes her think she can satisfy America?” (A retweet.)

Photo: Peter Arkle

Seven Conspiracies Trump Might Appreciate Some Credit for Exposing While Running for President

1. The IRS Subjects Christians to Greater Scrutiny

In February, Trump was asked why his tax returns were being audited by the IRS. Trump replied, “Well, maybe because of the fact that I’m a strong Christian, and I feel strongly about it and maybe there’s a bias.”

2. Antonin Scalia Was Probably Murdered

“It’s a horrible topic. But they say they found a pillow on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow,” Trump told conservative radio host Michael Savage. “It’s just starting to come out now.”

3. Vaccines Cause Autism

“The child, the beautiful child, went to have the vaccine and came back and a week later got a tremendous fever. Got very, very sick. Now is autistic,” Trump said at a primary debate. “I’m in favor of vaccines. Do them over a longer period of time. Same amount, just in little sections.”

4. Ted Cruz’s Father Was Involved in the Kennedy Assassination

“You know, his father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being, you know, shot … And nobody even brings it up!”

5. There Is No Drought in California

In May, Trump informed the citizens of Fresno that there was no water shortage in their state — the government was just diverting all the water into the ocean to save a bunch of endangered fish. “It is so ridiculous where they’re taking the water and shoving it out to sea,” Trump said. “There is no drought. They turn the water out into the ocean.”

6. Obama Wasn’t Born in the United States — Or So Hillary Clinton Would Have You Believe

In January 2016, Trump reiterated his long-standing uncertainty about Obama’s origins to CNN, saying he didn’t know where the president was born, but had “my own theory on Obama. Someday I’ll write a book.”

Nine months later, his campaign announced that Obama had been born in the United States, which we learned thanks to his hard work and contrary to the ­rumor we all know Hillary Clinton started during her “very nasty, failed 2008 campaign.” Trump, on the other hand, had done “a great service to the president” by ­persuading him to release his birth certificate in 2011, thereby bringing “this ugly incident to its conclusion.”

7. The Democratic Nominee — Working in Collaboration With a Cabal of International Bankers, Mexican Billionaire Carlos Slim, Over a Dozen Women Pretending to Be Victims of Sexual Harassment, and African-American Voters in Philadelphia — Will Rig the 2016 Election, As Part of an Elaborate Plot to End U.S. Sovereignty and Establish Open Borders

Throughout his general-election campaign, Trump warned supporters that the election might be “rigged” or “stolen” via fraudulent voting in “other [i.e., African-American] communities.”

After he was hit with a wave of sexual-assault allegations in October, the GOP nominee suggested that the accusations were fabricated by the Clinton campaign and published only because the New York Times is partly owned by Carlos Slim, who is one of several “foreign corporations” and “global financial powers” who meet “in secret” with Hillary Clinton “to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty.”

After Trump Called John Kasich “One of the Worst Presidential Candidates in History,” His Son Offered Him Control Over the Entire Government

Throughout the primaries, the Ohio governor routinely said Trump was “really not prepared to be president”; Trump had responded, among other ways, by saying, “I’ve never seen a human being eat in such a disgusting fashion!” But in May, according to the New York Times, Donald Jr. reached out to a Kasich adviser and asked whether his boss had any interest in being the most powerful vice-president in history? He went on to explain that in a Trump administration, the VP would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy. What did that leave for the president to do?, the Kasich adviser wondered. That was simple — “Making America great again.” (The Trump campaign denied the story.)

Four Times Trump Reacted to Tragedy By Congratulating Himself for Being Right

1. After a series of coordinated terrorist attacks killed 130 people in Paris.

They laughed at me when I said to bomb the ISIS controlled oil fields. Now they are not laughing and doing what I said. #Trump2016

2. When multiple bombings in Brussels claimed the lives of 32 civilians.

I have proven to be far more correct about terrorism than anybody — and it’s not even close. Hopefully AZ and UT will be voting for me today!

3. After 49 people were slaughtered in an Orlando nightclub.

Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!

4. When Nykea Aldridge, cousin of NBA star Dwyane Wade, was shot dead in Chicago.

Dwyane Wade’s cousin was just shot and killed walking her baby in Chicago. Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!

Photo: Peter Arkle

The Preferred Candidate of Republican Evangelicals Touted the Size of His Penis at a Nationally Televised Debate

“I have to say this: He hit my hands. Nobody has ever hit my hands. … Look at those hands, are they small hands?” Trump said, proudly displaying his stubby paws. “And he ­referred to my hands: If they’re small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there’s no problem, I guarantee!”

Seven Foolproof Sexual-Harassment Defenses

1. “Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you.”

2. “Nothing more than a distraction from the important issues we’re facing today.”

3. “Because it did not happen!”

4. “Look at her. Look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don’t think so.”

5. “Oh, I’m sure she’s never been grabbed before.”

6. “This is locker-room talk. You know, when we have a world where you have ISIS chopping off heads …”

7. “Nobody has more respect for women than I do!”

Six Things Trump Supporters Said in the Candidate’s Defense

1. “And, of course, understand that by the very definition, you can’t rape your spouse.”

2. “I don’t characterize that as sexual assault.”

3. “King David had 500 concubines, for crying out loud.”

4. “My personal support for Donald Trump has never been based upon shared values.”

5. “Our country is going to suffer if we get sidetracked on these rabbit trails about ‘Is this person a good person, is that person a good person?’ ”

6. “So what? They’re Muslim.”

Photo: Peter Arkle

The GOP Front-runner Brought Vacuum-Packed Meat to His Victory Speech After the Michigan Primary to Convince Reporters That Trump Steaks Was Still in Business, Only

Close up of the “Trump Steaks.” Does that say Bush Brothers? Greg Pollowitz on Twitter

The Nominee’s Physician Has a Very Familiar Writing Style

“His physical strength and stamina are extraordinary,” physician Harold Bornstein wrote last December in a letter outlining Trump’s health. Bornstein characterized Trump’s blood pressure and lab results as “astonishingly excellent,” and concluded that “if elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”

Photo: Peter Arkle

The iPhone vs. the Android Tweets

Throughout the campaign, Donald Trump the performance artist was probably most at home on Twitter, where a “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Trump” dynamic reigned: During working hours, the feed published 140-character bits of hashtag-stuffed campaign boilerplate.

But early in the morning and late at night, the account spewed hyperbolic bile at an ever-expanding list of enemies. Political analysts eventually noticed that the latter tweets were sent from an Android device — likely Trump’s own Samsung Galaxy — while the former were sent by iPhone. A data analyst later confirmed that two sets of tweets were almost certainly written by different people. Compared to tweets sent from the iPhone, the Android deployed “40 to 80 ­percent more words related to disgust, sadness, fear, anger, and other negative sentiments.”

The Kremlinology of the Trump Tower

On June 16, 2015, Donald Trump appeared on the gilded mezzanine, stepped onto an escalator, and began an achingly slow descent to the lobby of Trump Tower. “Wow. Whoa. That is some group of people,” his announcement began. “Thousands … This is beyond anybody’s expectations. There’s been no crowd like this.” The next day, it was reported that the campaign had hired a casting agency that paid actors $50 each to attend. Since then, Trump Tower has become a Kremlin-like solar system unto itself for political journalists. Trump Tower is home to Trump’s corporate office, but it’s also his campaign headquarters. It’s where Trump has done countless television and radio interviews and where friends, journalists, and advisers call on him. It’s where protesters gather and take middle-finger selfies. It’s also where, in the confines of his 66th-floor penthouse, Trump hunkered down during the campaign’s most turbulent moments.

The Adorable Story of Trump’s Pet Frog

Photo: Peter Arkle

His name is Pepe, and he was an icon of the white-­supremacist internet before he became a campaign ally. As a comic character in the mid-aughts, Pepe was a pretty chill frog who liked hot dogs, pizza, and peeing with his pants around his ankles, and who made the jump from comic-book character to internet meme around 2008. But after Katy Perry used an exhausted Pepe face to bemoan jet lag and Nicki Minaj Instagrammed a twerking Pepe, message-board regulars started making lewd Pepe memes to outrage the public — and reclaim the frog from “normies.” This tactic was popular among white nationalists who began using Pepe’s head alongside swastikas, in front of Auschwitz, and wearing a white power T-shirt. In October 2015, Donald Trump retweeted a picture of Pepe in the likeness of Donald standing behind a podium bearing the presidential seal. And this September 11, Donald Jr. re-Instagrammed a movie poster advertising the action flop The Expendables, but in place of the star-studded cast were the heads of Trump’s closest advisers branded as “The Deplorables.” There, to the right of Donald Sr., was Pepe.

Somehow, Julian Assange Became a Far-Right Folk Hero

Six years ago, Sean Hannity accused the WikiLeaks founder of “waging his war against the U.S.” Times change. In 2016, a billionaire Clinton donor became the GOP’s populist nominee — and Assange refashioned himself as the Republican Party’s most effective opposition researcher. WikiLeaks inundated the web with the Clinton campaign’s private correspondence, including the text of the Democratic nominee’s closed-door speeches with Wall Street firms. “You have done a lot of good in what you have exposed about how corrupt, dishonest, and phony our government is,” the Fox News host assured Assange in September. “I do hope you get free one day. I wish you the best.”

When Violent Altercations Broke Out Between Trump Supporters and Protesters, Trump Lamented That the Violence Did Not Occur Frequently Enough

In November 2015, a half-dozen Trump supporters tackled, punched, and kicked an African-American protester at a rally in Alabama. “Maybe he should have been roughed up,” Trump told Fox News. ­“Because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.”

“We’re not allowed to punch back anymore,” Trump lamented in February, as security guards escorted a protester out of a rally in Las Vegas. “I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out in a stretcher, folks … I’d like to punch him in the face.”

At a subsequent rally, Trump assured his supporters that if they hurt a protester, “I’ll defend you in court, don’t worry about it.” Within days, an elderly white man named John McGraw sucker-punched a black protester during a Trump rally in North Carolina. The assailant told a reporter, “The next time we see him, we might have to kill him.”

Shortly after the incident, Trump told reporters, “The audience hit back, and that’s what we need a little bit more of.”

At the Second Debate, Trump’s Brilliant Strategy Was to Get Bill Clinton to Shake Hands With Women Who Had Accused Him of Sex Crimes

Donald Trump was famously unwilling to put much effort into debate preparation. According to multiple reports, the mogul declined to participate in mock debates before his first showdown with Clinton, opting to chat with Roger Ailes over lunch instead.

But when the Washington Post published a tape of Trump bragging about grabbing women’s genitals without their ­consent — 48 hours before the second debate in St. Louis — the mogul decided elaborate preparations were in order.

The Trump campaign arranged for three women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct ranging from harassment to rape — Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, and Juanita ­Broaddrick — to travel to Washington University, appear at a pre-­debate press conference with the GOP nominee, then walk out at the same time as Bill Clinton — where they would provide the former president with the least comfortable handshakes of his life, as news cameras gawked.

But the plan was thwarted minutes before its execution. The Washington Post reported that the Commission on Presidential Debates got wind of the plan and threatened to send security officers after the women if they approached the VIP box.

The GOP Nominee Certainly Set the Record for “Jokes” About His Opponent Being Assassinated

“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Trump said in August. “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”

One month later, Trump suggested that Clinton’s Secret Service agents could teach her a valuable lesson about the Second Amendment by leaving her unprotected in a public place. “Yeah. Take their guns away. She doesn’t want guns. Let’s see what happens to her.”

A Shock Jock Became the Country’s Most Authoritative Debate Fact-Checker

Before Trump started spending his mornings discussing politics on Fox & Friends, he began many a day discussing “pieces of ass” and “pancake tits” with Howard Stern. Occasionally, though, his conversations with the shock jock would veer away from how much he wanted to bang Princess Diana and into the realm of current events. When Stern asked Trump if he supported the Iraq invasion in 2002, the future presidential nominee replied, “Yeah, I guess so.”

Photo: Peter Arkle

During his 2016 campaign, however, Trump touted his (fictional) pre-invasion opposition to the Iraq War as proof of his superior foreign-policy judgment. After Trump’s 14-year-old conversation with Stern came up at the first debate, the radio host said three days later, “I hung in until about 10:30 almost, heard my name mentioned, and I went to sleep. It was kinda thrilling … Well, it always comes up because, you know, Trump was on our show years ago and said yeah, you know, he was kind of for the Iraq War, us going into Iraq.”

The fact that Stern had confirmed the contents of a widely published audio clip was treated as national news. Weeks later, Stern asserted his authority as a connoisseur of “locker-room talk,” declaring Trump’s comments in a 2005 Access Hollywood video to be officially beyond the pale: “When I’m around guys 85 percent of the times, you’re talking about pussy—but I have never been in the room when someone has said, ‘Grab them by the pussy.’ ”

Trump’s Personal Mount Rushmore

Photo: Peter Arkle

Vladimir Putin
“He’s been a leader. Far more than our president has been a leader.”

Kim Jong Un
“You gotta give him credit … How many young guys — he was, like, 26 or 25 when his father died — take over these tough generals, and all of a sudden … he goes in, he takes over, and he’s the boss. It’s incredible. He wiped out the uncle, he wiped out this one, that one. I mean, this guy doesn’t play games.”

Bashar al-Assad
“I think in terms of leadership, he’s getting an A and our president is not doing so well.”

Saddam Hussein
“He was a bad guy, really bad guy. But you know what he did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good. They didn’t read them the rights. They didn’t talk. They were a terrorist. It was over.”

The Campaign’s Top Three Melania Trump Quotes

“From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise; that you treat people with respect.”

“Our motto is, when they go low, we go high.”

“I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves and I watch my daughters — two beautiful, intelligent, black young women — playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.”

The BuzzFeed CEO Shared Ivanka Trump’s Curiosity About “Mulatto Cock”

Photo: Peter Arkle

Upon reading that Ivanka had been startled listening to her father’s “pussy” tape, BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti tweeted: “Surprised Ivanka would be shocked by lewd language. I met her once & she casually said: ‘I’ve never seen a mulatto cock, but I’d like to!’ ” Later, Peretti added to the story of the encounter in lower Manhattan from about ten years earlier, “She was saying how she first said she had never seen an uncircumcised cock and then she said, ‘I’ve never seen a mulatto cock. There’s lots of cocks I’ve never seen,’ or something like that.” Ivanka denied the story ­entirely and the Trump campaign demanded an apology.

Trump, Counter-Trump

It’s not unusual for a presidential candidate to … massage a position or two over the course of a campaign. But the malleability of Trump’s platform was unprecedented: By NBC News’ count, Trump took 138 distinct positions on 23 major issues between the launch of his candidacy and the final week in ­October. Here are a few of his most whiplash-inducing:

The Minimum Wage

Trump: “Goofy Elizabeth Warren lied when she says I want to abolish the federal minimum wage. See media — asking for increase!”

Counter-Trump: “Taxes too high, wages too high, we’re not going to be able to compete against the world.”

Taxing the Rich

Trump: “I would take carried interest out, and I would let people making hundreds of millions of dollars a year pay some tax, because right now they are paying very little tax and I think it’s outrageous.”

Counter-Trump: “If I increase it on the wealthy, that means they’re still going to be paying less than they’re paying now. I’m not increasing it from this point, I’m talking about increasing from my tax proposal.”

Criminalizing Abortion

Trump: Women who receive abortions will receive “some form of punishment.”

Counter-Trump: “The doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman. The woman is a victim in this case as is the life in her womb.”

Government Debt

Trump: “I can eliminate the national debt ‘over a period of eight years.’ ”

Counter-Trump: The national debt doesn’t really matter because “you never have to default because you print the money, I hate to tell you.”

A Broken Clock Is Right a Few Times a Campaign Cycle: A Greatest Hits of Political Apostasy

George W. Bush didn’t keep us safe.

“I’m not blaming George Bush, but I don’t want Jeb Bush to say ‘My brother kept us safe,’ because September 11 was one of the worst days in the history of this country.”

The United States wasted trillions of dollars over the past decade on foreign interventions that made the world a worse place.

“We’ve spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people that, frankly, if they were there and if we could have spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges, and all of the other problems — our airports and all the other problems we have — we would have been a lot better off, I can tell you that right now. We have done a tremendous disservice not only to Middle East … The people that have been killed, the people that have been wiped away — and for what?”

Hedge-fund managers can afford to pay more taxes.

“The hedge-fund guys are getting away with murder. They’re making a tremendous amount of money. They have to pay taxes.”

Special interests buy special access with their campaign donations.

“Before this, before two months ago, I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And do you know what? When I need something from them, two years later, three years later, I call them. They are there for me. And that’s a broken system.”

The Wall Street Journal editorial board doesn’t know what it’s talking about.

“I’m suggesting that The Wall Street Journal editorial board doesn’t know what they’re talking about, that they’re third-rate … They write so many bad editorials. Whoever the editorial-board top person is — and I think
I actually know who the top person is — they ought to resign because they’re incompetent.”

Glenn Beck is a sad, strange man.

“Every time I see him, he’s a weird guy. He’s always crying. He’s a weird dude.”

*This article appears in the October 31, 2016, issue of New York Magazine.

The Insane Things You’ve Forgotten About Trump’s Campaign