During the lead-up to the US presidential election, a quote attributed to Donald Trump purporting to be from a magazine interview in the late Nineties was doing the rounds on social media.
Since Trump’s victory in the election, it has been re-shared thousands of times again, and has again gone viral in the process.
The quote, claiming to be from a People magazine interview with the President-elect in 1998, reads: “If I were to run, I’d run as a Republican. 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 only problem is, there’s no evidence of Trump having ever said it.
According to Snopes, a website that debunks urban legends and myths, the image began appearing around October 2015, about four months after Trump announced his candidacy for the presidency.
While the quote may seem plausible, there is no evidence that Trump even gave any interviews to People magazine in 1998, let alone uttered the now-viral phrase, and there is nothing in the magazine’s extensive online archive pointing to political profiles of the businessman.
The image of Trump is taken from an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1988, during which the host asked if he would ever run for president.
Trump responded: “I just probably wouldn’t do it... I probably wouldn’t, but I do get tired of seeing what’s happening with this country and if it got so bad, I would never want to rule it out totally.”
The reference to Fox News is also suspect - while the network launched in 1996, its popularity only really took off during the 2000 presidential campaign when George W Bush was elected; in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks and during the 2002 US-led invasion of Iraq.
Trump did begin making noises about running for president in 1998, telling NBC’s Stone Phillips that he was ‘liberal on healthcare’, in favour of tax cuts and pro-choice when it came to abortion, saying: “I hate the concept of abortion. I hate anything about abortion and yet, I’m totally for choice. I think you have no alternative.”
Trump also told CNN’s Larry King the following year that he was a ‘registered Republican’, adding: “I’m a pretty conservative guy. I’m somewhat liberal on social issues, especially healthcare... The Democrats are too far left. The Republicans are too far right. And I don’t think anybody’s hitting the chord, not the chord that I want to hear, and not the chord that other people want to hear.”
He also told King that he was planning on forming a ‘presidential exploratory committee’, adding: “The polls came out and they said if I ran, I’d do very well.’
Trump has been a member of both the Democrats and Republicans, siding with the former between 2001 and 2009 before switching allegiance to the GOP. After a brief stint as an independent, he rejoined the Republicans in 2012.