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stated on December 11, 2018 in a Facebook post:
That Donald Trump said in 1998 if he were to run for president he would run as a Republican because "They’re the dumbest group of voters in the country. They believe anything on Fox News. I could lie and they’d still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific."
true pants-fire
Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman December 18, 2018

No, Donald Trump did not call Republican voters dumb in the 1990s

Donald Trump has made plenty of questionable claims over the years, but calling Republican voters dumb isn’t one of them.

Still, one political meme continues to spread across social media sites and claims he said just that.

The story goes that in a 1998 interview with People Magazine, Donald Trump said he was considering a run for president and would do so as a Republican because "They’re the dumbest group of voters in the country. They believe anything on Fox News. I could lie and they’d still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The meme features a repurposed image of a younger Trump, with the quote billed as a statement he delivered in an interview with the magazine.

So did Donald Trump actually say that – or anything like it?

No, the quote is bogus.

No such interview exists

The fabricated quote appeared on social media sites in October 2015, when Trump’s campaign started to gain steam. The meme has continually resurfaced over the years, though it has repeatedly been debunked.

We searched People’s archives, which date back to the 1970s, and found no Trump interviews in 1998 – or any other time – that feature that quote or anything resembling it.

Most of the magazine’s articles at the time that involved Trump discussed his celebrity and high-profile divorce from Marla Maples.

People also issued a statement rebuking the quote’s authenticity.

"PEOPLE looked into this matter exhaustively when the quote first surfaced," a magazine spokesperson said. "We combed through every Trump story in our archive and did not find anything remotely like this quote – and no Trump interview in 1998."

Trump did talk politics in the late 1980s and ’90s, but there is no record of him bashing the Republican party, or its voters.

For example, in a 1988 episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show, Trump said he would probably never run for president, but wouldn’t rule it out completely. The image used in the meme is from that interview:

On Sept. 30, 1999, Trump wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal and said he was considering a presidential run, and sounded as if he would do so as an independent.

"Unlike candidates from the two major parties, my candidacy would not represent an exercise in career advancement ... The Republicans are captives of their right wing. The Democrats are captives of their left wing. I don’t hear anyone speaking for the working men and women in the center."

Just a few days later, on Oct. 8, 1999, Trump appeared on CNN’s Larry King Live and said he formed a committee to explore a presidential run and that he was a registered Republican.

Our ruling

A meme claims Donald Trump said in an interview 20 years ago that if he ever ran for president, he would do so as a Republican because they were "the dumbest group of voters in the country" and "they believe anything on Fox News."

While Trump flirted with the idea of a presidential run in a few interviews in the late 1990s, there is no record of Trump saying this quote in People, or in any other publication.

Despite the quote’s repeated debunking, it has shown up across social media consistently over the years.

We rate this claim Pants on Fire!

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Pants on Fire
That Donald Trump said in 1998 if he were to run for president he would run as a Republican because "They’re the dumbest group of voters in the country. They believe anything on Fox News. I could lie and they’d still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific."
in a Facebook post
Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Our Sources

Facebook post, Dec. 11, 2018

Snopes, "Did Donald Trump Say Republicans Are the "Dumbest Group of Voters"? Oct. 16, 2015

New York Magazine, "The Fake Donald Trump Quote That Just Won’t Die, Nov. 4, 2016

AOL.com, Truth behind the Donald Trump quote from 1998 that's rapidly going viral," Nov. 9, 2016

Cheatsheet.com, "Did Donald Trump Call Republican Voters Dumb?" Oct. 1, 2018

FactCheck.org, "Bogus Meme Targets Trump," Nov. 25, 2015

People archives, Accessed Dec. 18, 2018

Huffington Post, "In 1988, Oprah Asked Donald Trump If He’d Ever Run For President. Here’s How He Replied." July 28, 2015

YouTube, "1988 Trump-Winfrey clip," Accessed Dec. 18, 2018

Wall Street Journal, "America Needs A President Like Me," Sept. 30, 1999

CNN, "Larry King Live show transcript," Aired Oct. 8, 1999; Accessed Dec. 18, 2018

Email Interview, Julie Farin, People communications director, Dec. 18, 2018

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More by Samantha Putterman

No, Donald Trump did not call Republican voters dumb in the 1990s

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