Donald Trump says he’s now the wealthiest candidate in the 2016 presidential race — but he’ll have a hard time convincing his more casual followers that he’s serious about being the most qualified person to occupy the Oval Office.
Trump defied the naysayers who predicted he’d never run for President at his announcement rally Tuesday at the Trump Tower in New York City. But his hyperbolic speech contained snatches of the rambling, oddball rants the reality TV star’s Twitter followers have come to expect of him.
Trump has embraced “birtherism” and vaccine fear-mongering and made more than a few racially tinged comments over the past few years as he’s flirted with running for office in various media appearances and on Twitter.
Here are some of the most notable things Trump has said in the lead-up to the official launch of his presidential campaign.
Trump released paperwork Tuesday that he said showed his net worth came in at just under $9 billion (Forbes maintains that Trump is worth little more than $4 billion). His wealth puts him far out ahead of his Republican challengers and even the GOP’s last nominee, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who had an estimated net worth of as much as $250 million at the time.
“I’m the most successful person ever to run for the presidency, by far,” Trump said in an interview with The Des Moines Register earlier this month. “Nobody’s ever been more successful than me. I’m the most successful person ever to run. Ross Perot isn’t successful like me. Romney — I have a Gucci store that’s worth more than Romney.”
He also boasted about not needing to take donations to get his presidential campaign off the ground in his announcement speech.
“I don’t need anybody’s money. It’s nice. I don’t need anybody’s money. I’m using my own money,” Trump said. “I’m not using the lobbyists. I’m not using donors. I don’t care. I’m really rich.”
Trump has repeatedly said that he’d be tough on immigration if he were the country’s chief executive. The real estate mogul often says that his construction expertise is the solution to securing the border with Mexico, which he’s fond of referring to as “the new China.”
“I would build a wall and nobody can build a wall like Trump can build a wall. I build some of the greatest buildings in the world,” Trump told Breitbart News earlier this month. “I would build a wall that people would not penetrate, and I would supplement that wall with military—and no illegals would come into this country. None. Zero. I would have Mexico—Mexico would pay for that wall because Mexico is doing a number on us unlike anyone other than China.”
Trump addressed immigration from Mexico at the very top of his presidential announcement speech, too, branding some immigrants as “rapists” bringing drugs and crime into the U.S.
“They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists and some I assume are good people,” Trump said. “But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting. It only makes common sense. They’re sending us not the right people.”
Trump infamously peddled the “birther” conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was actually born in Kenya while publicly toying with a 2012 presidential bid. He used the same rhetorical ammo against Republican presidential candidate and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) earlier this year.
“He’s got a hurdle that nobody else seems to have at this moment,” Trump said in a March interview with New York City TV station WNYW. “It’s a hurdle and somebody could certainly look at it very seriously. He was born in Canada.”
“You’re supposed to be born in this country,” he added.
Cruz was born in 1970 in Calgary, Alberta to an American mother and a Cuban father who was later naturalized as a U.S. citizen. Cruz officially renounced his Canadian citizenship in May 2014 as he weighed his 2016 presidential bid.
Trump blasted President Barack Obama and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake in a racially tinged Twitter rant after the death of Freddie Gray in police custody sparked widespread violence in that city.
“Our great African American President hasn’t exactly had a positive impact on the thugs who are so happily and openly destroying Baltimore!” he tweeted.
“The Mayor of Baltimore said she wanted to give the rioters “space to destroy” – another real genius!” he added.
Trump’s penchant for birtherism surfaced again during the Ebola outbreak last fall, when a doctor returned to New York City from working in West Africa and began to show symptoms of the deadly virus. The real estate mogul faulted Obama for allowing flights to continue between the U.S. and West Africa and called for his resignation. He referred to Obama as “Barry Sotoro,” an apparently botched birther reference to Obama’s Indonesian stepfather’s last name,” Soetoro.”
“I never thought I’d say it in my lifetime, but President Barack Hussein Obama, aka Barry Sotoro, is a far worse president than Jimmy Carter!” he tweeted.
Trump tried to play both sides of the brief debate over childhood vaccinations earlier this year, calling himself “pro-vaccine” while alluding to a debunked link between vaccines and autism.
Despite calling himself a “big fan of vaccines,” Trump told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham that he’s seen “magnificent children” go in for shots and end up with “horrible autism.” He also advocated for a delayed immunization schedule for kids.
“No more massive injections,” he tweeted last year. “Tiny children are not horses—one vaccine at a time, over time.”
Trump is a prolific social media personality and often retweets messages from followers begging for him to enter the presidential race. Blindly sharing any and all #Trump2016 posts is risky, though, as the real estate mogul learned in April when he retweeted a joke about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton:
— Lenny Jacobson (@Lennyjacobson) April 17, 2015
Trump — or whoever was in charge of running his Twitter account at the time — quickly deleted the tweet, hopefully after realizing the joke was in bad taste.