Donald Trump, throughout his presidential campaign, has distinguished himself from free-trade Republicans, saying he would end the North American Free Trade Agreement and condemning President Obama’s trade deal with Asian countries.
Trump told 60 Minutes of NAFTA last year, “We will either renegotiate it or we will break it.”
It’s a position of Trump’s that he has expressed over the past three decades. In appearances and writings dating back to the 1980s, Trump has criticized U.S. trade deficits and called agreements between the U.S. and other countries “bad deals.”
According to multiple archived news accounts reviewed by BuzzFeed News, Trump spoke forcefully against NAFTA at a California-based convention in 1993, when the agreement’s ratification was being debated in Congress. The accounts appear to be the only record of Trump’s speech. A representative for the conference said it wasn’t taped that year.
“Trump, who entertained the crowd with details of his financial problems during 1990s, was one of the few to come out against NAFTA,” read the Daily News of Los Angeles account of an October 1993 speech to the ninth annual Bakersfield Business Conference, which was held in a stadium on the grounds of California State University, Bakersfield.
Another local newspaper account of Trump’s speech, from the Lodi News-Sentinel, also has Trump saying the plan “would only benefit Mexico.”
Trump was opposed by three former presidents at the conference. Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and George H.W. Bush all spoke in favor of the deal.
The Fresno Bee reported Trump saying of the planned agreement: “We never make a good deal.”
From the Bee:
Real estate magnate Trump was the only speaker swimming against the NAFTA current, criticizing the treaty not so much for its concept but rather for what he sees as poor negotiating by U.S. trade representatives.
NAFTA is poorly crafted, Trump said, as all our other trade treaties seem to be. “We never make a good deal.”
“It’s a no-brainer,” Trump said, according to the Long Beach Press-Telegram. “The Mexicans want it, and that doesn’t sound good to me.”
Trump also claimed the Kuwaitis “truly hate our guts,” the Japanese “are laughing at us,” and that “mobsters” were taking over Indian reservation gambling and creating a “crime wave like you haven’t seen since Al Capone.”
NAFTA was eventually approved by the House and the Senate in November 1993 and was signed by President Bill Clinton early the next month.
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