Back on September 30, 2008, Donald Trump was asked by CNN’s Kiran Chetry what he thought of the plan to bail out failing banks. What he told her:
Well, I think it would be better if it passed. I’m not sure that it’s going to work. A lot of people are not – you know, it is trial and error. This is very complicated. This is more complicated than sending rockets to the moon. Nobody really knows what impact it’s going to have. Maybe it works and maybe it doesn’t. But certainly it is worth a shot. I don’t love the idea that the government’s buying back all the bad loans. How about some of the good loans? You know? I don’t like the idea that the government, frankly, is going to be negotiating with people to sell those loans, because maybe we’d be better off having the best bankers in the world do that.
On October 19, CNN invited Trump back on and asked him, for some reason, to give world letter grades on how they’d handled the crisis.
BLITZER: All right. Henry Paulson.
TRUMP: I would give him an A.
TRUMP: I’d give him an A. And I know a lot of people are saying, oh, this and that. But the fact is, he came into a mess. He didn’t create the mess, and he’s helping us get out of the mess.
BLITZER: So if Obama were elected, you would advise him to keep Paulson on the job?
TRUMP: I wouldn’t necessarily. He’s got his own people, and he’s got some very, very smart people with him. But I think Paulson I would give an A, because he really took something very strong – now, you could say the UK came up with the first plan – but Paulson’s the one that got us there in the first place in terms of the concept.
BLITZER: The Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Ben B., as you call him.
TRUMP: I think that he has – was a little bit late on the draw, but he’s come around strongly, and I would give him a B-plus. A good, strong B-plus.
Look, I mean, these people inherited a mess. And they weren’t necessarily to blame for it and they’re trying to fix it.
I would say that Ben was a little bit late, and based on the lateness, but I’m not sure there’s – you know, if he was earlier, I’m not sure if it would be any different. So I would give him a B-plus.
And the Club for Growth, which has been in an all-out war on Trump, points to a December 17, 2008 interview on Fox News where Trump was asked about the nascent auto bailouts.
CAVUTO: Do you think that we can afford to do without one of the Big Three?
TRUMP: No. I think you should have the Big Three. I think, frankly, they should do dip financing. I think the government should stand behind them 100 percent. You cannot lose the auto companies. They’re great. They make wonderful products. Maybe they’re making too much. Maybe they’re not making too much. I mean, I just brought a Dodge Ram truck from Arrigo Dodge, who’s a member of one of my clubs and great guy.
So, you know, there’s that.