No one expects a president to candidate who’s running for office — including the grand position of U.S. president — to fulfill every promise once they’re elected. The bigger backtracks cause waves, however, and most notoriously, President George H.W. Bush ran on the promise of “no new taxes” before implementing several new taxes (which were, to be fair, roundly supported by Democrats) during his term. The discarded promise transformed into an SNL punchline and caused his “read my lips” speech (penned by Peggy Noonan) to echo until this day.
President Barack Obama had his share of broken promises as well, and it’s useful to remember that there are other mechanisms at play. For example, struggles with Congress mean that a president can’t always nail down every vow he made while seeking the gig. However, Trump’s flip-flops — as we outline below — have proven so far to have arrived almost unilaterally and according to whim. And the result has been a string of very public reversals that could make it hard for Trump to rally members of Congress to his side and sell his agenda to the American people in the future.
While Trump has insisted that he’s keeping his promises, a new Gallup poll indicates that the Americans who believe this claim have fallen from 62% in February to just 45%. With that in mind, here’s a running list of Trump’s biggest changes of heart and what may have caused them.
What was said?
One of Trump’s recurring themes during his campaign was how America was losing its competitive edge. Trump placed the blame largely on China and even referred to the country as a “currency manipulator” that had undercut our trade agreements. As recently as April 2, Trump told the Financial Times that “our country hasn’t had a clue” about the handling of their currency.
Then, just ten days later, he told the Wall Street Journal that he was backing away from the label of “currency manipulator” because it could jeopardize his upcoming talks with China on how to deal with North Korea.
Why the change?
While an abrupt change of position for Trump, it’s one that makes a certain amount of sense if he’s willing to put aside international squabbling over trade in an effort to focus on the bigger issue of North Korea. An issue that, after ten minutes of conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping, he realized was “not so easy.”