Donald Trump, ‘world-class businessman’ – and business critic

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds up a key to the city he brought onto the stage with him as he speaks at a campaign rally Monday, March 7, 2016, in Madison, Miss.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds up a key to the city he brought onto the stage with him as he speaks at a campaign rally Monday, March 7, 2016, in Madison, Miss. AP

Donald Trump says he’s a “world class businessman,” but that doesn’t mean he’s a fan of all businesses. Indeed, the Republican presidential front-runner routinely uses his appearances to swipe at corporate America, from Apple to Telemundo.

Some of his criticism stems from complaints that companies are moving jobs out of the United States in pursuit of cheaper labor in Mexico and China. Others are more personal, including frequent slaps at Macy’s, which severed ties with him after he accused Mexico of sending “rapists” across the border.

Candidates routinely issue broad critiques against business, decrying the excesses of “big pharma” or the greed of Wall Street. Democrat Hillary Clinton has joined Trump in singling out companies that she says took tax credits and are now moving out of the country. But like much of the real estate mogul’s campaign, the scope of his criticism is largely unprecedented. And it continues even as Trump’s own businesses come under increased scrutiny, particularly now-defunct Trump University, which has been sued by students who say they were defrauded. Trump calls the charges unsubstantiated.

Donald Trump entered the 2016 presidential race on June 16, 2015. Find out where he stands on four of the biggest issues this election: immigration, ISIS, job growth and gay marriage. (Daniel Desrochers/McClatchy DC)

Politics for Donald Trump appears to be exceedingly personal, and that seems to be the case whether he’s attacking Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, or Apple or Macy’s.

Dorie Clark, adjunct professor at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business

Here’s a guide to the businesses Trump has singled out for criticism:

APPLE: Weighing in on a dispute between one of the country’s biggest companies and the federal government, Trump called for a boycott of Apple products in response to the company’s refusal to cooperate with the FBI and unlock the iPhone of San Bernardino, California, shooter Syed Farook:

“What I think you ought to do is boycott Apple until such time as they give that security number,” he said last month at a rally in South Carolina, adding that he’d just come up with the idea. “How do you like that?” he said.

He later tweeted his call for a boycott.

He tweeted after the event that he would stop using Apple until it changed its mind.

Trump has previously lashed out at Apple for shipping most of its manufacturing jobs overseas: In January he told students at Liberty University that his administration would get the company “to start building their damn computers and things in this country, instead of in other countries.”

CARRIER: Trump often cites a surreptitiously filmed video that shows a Carrier executive telling employees that the heating, cooling and air-conditioning giant is relocating its Indianapolis plant – and 1,400 jobs – to Monterrey, Mexico. Trump says he won’t buy any more Carrier air conditioners – “now I buy Trane” – and he pledges that as president he’d slap a 35 percent tax on Carrier imports into the United States.

They’re going to make air conditioners, they’re going to sell them across the border, probably have illegals walk them in because it’s cheaper that way. Every illegal gets an air conditioner, walks across.

Donald Trump on Carrier

He accuses Ford of following suit: “They’re building a $2.5 billion plant and they’ll have illegals drive the cars across the border. It’s very sad. . . . We can’t afford to allow it happen anymore.”

He’s said he’d tax Ford for every car and truck that crossed the border, though it isn’t clear that Trump could single out either company for such a tax.

In South Carolina, home to a prized Boeing plant, Trump warned that the jobs producing the company’s Dreamliner might soon be sent to China.

“Everyone loves Boeing today, but talk to me about Boeing in five years,” he said at a rally in Walterboro, South Carolina. “Unless I’m elected president; then you’ll be OK.”

MACY’S: One of Trump’s longest-running feuds, it began when the department store severed ties with Trump last summer, announcing it would stop carrying his signature fragrances, satin neckties and shirts to protest his controversial remarks about Mexican immigrants.

Trump called the company “extremely disloyal to me” and called for a boycott, retweeting his supporters who said they were cutting up their Macy’s credit cards.

“Don’t shop at Macy’s. In my opinion they don’t have the best interests of our country in mind,” he said at a February rally in Sparks, Nevada. “They’re more interested in being politically correct, and political correctness is killing this country; remember that.”

When Macy’s announced in January that it would close some stores and eliminate thousands of jobs after a disappointing holiday shopping season, Trump took to Twitter to celebrate.

The conservative Club for Growth, which is running ads opposing Trump, criticized him for the tweet.

STARBUCKS: Siding with conservatives who saw it as a slight against Christianity when Starbucks, during the holidays, elected to use plain red coffee cups devoid of winter-themed designs, Trump suggested that consumers boycott the coffee giant to register their displeasure.

“Maybe we should boycott Starbucks? I don’t know,” he said in November at a Springfield, Illinois, rally. “If I become president, we’re all going to be saying Merry Christmas again, that I can tell you. That I can tell you.”

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OREO COOKIES: Trump repeatedly says he won’t eat the cookies anymore because, he says, Nabisco is closing its plant in Chicago and moving it to Mexico.

I’m never eating Oreos again. Ever. Ever. Eh, maybe. Maybe if I can find some made in the United States, I will. But they’re closing their big plant in Chicago, and they’re moving it to Mexico.

Donald Trump on Nabisco

FactCheck.Org, however, which noted that Trump once appeared in an ad for Oreo Golden Double Stuff cookies, found that the Chicago plant will not be closing. It won’t make Oreos anymore, but Nabisco said they’d continue to be made at three other U.S. plants.

Still, Trump may have found some common ground with Democratic runner front-runner Clinton, who name-checked Nabisco at the Democratic debate Sunday in Flint, Michigan, noting that the company had received tax benefits from Chicago and Illinois to stay there.

She pledged to “claw back the benefits,” adding that she wants companies to pay a fee: “They will have to pay them back if they are leaving a place that actually invested in them.”

THE MEDIA: Trump, who would like to make it easier to sue news organizations for libel, frequently disparages the “dishonest” media – and on occasion singles out outlets.

THE NEW YORK TIMES – Trump says it’s no secret why he gets bad coverage in The New York Times: “It’s owned by Mexico.”

He singled out the Times during an attack on the press in Nevada, saying, “A rich guy in Mexico actually has power at The New York Times. I wonder why they don’t like us, you know? I just wonder.”

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim is the largest individual shareholder in the New York Times Co.

TELEMUNDO – Trump confronted a Telemundo reporter last summer who asked a question he didn’t like, saying the news company “should be ashamed,” and he said at a recent debate that he didn’t “believe anything Telemundo says” after he was asked about a Telemundo poll that showed that 3 out of 4 Hispanics nationwide don’t support him.

UNIVISION – Trump filed a $500 million lawsuit against Univision after the company announced it would not broadcast his Miss Universe pageant because of the remarks he made about Mexican immigrants when he launched his presidential campaign. The parties settled in February, but not before Trump’s campaign barred a Univision news crew from entering a campaign rally.

THE GOOD: Trump has had a few good words about companies. Although he says on the campaign trail that Caterpillar is losing out to competitors such as Japanese-based Komatsu, he says he wants his wall across the border with Mexico built “only” with equipment from Caterpillar and John Deere.

Lesley Clark: 202-383-6054, @lesleyclark