Last February – on the eve of the passage of a controversial health care bill and amidst increasing skepticism of the 2009 stimulus plan – many voters who had previously supported Barack Obama were beginning to sour on the president.
But one prominent American was still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
“I really like him. We'll have to see how he does,” Donald Trump told CNN in an interview. “On a personal basis, I like him. … Right now, he's at that tipping point. It's going to go one way or the other.
It was, apparently, a steep slope after that tipping point. In an interview last week, Trump categorically dubbed Obama “the worst president ever.”
But Trump, whose presidential flirtations have been coupled with television omnipresence in recent months, has only taken a tough view of the most recent resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue within the last year.
As late as April 2010, just a year ago, Trump said that “the jury’s still out” on Obama’s job performance, noting just that he’d “like to see” the president get tougher on OPEC and China.
At times, Trump’s disdain for George W. Bush provided the backdrop for the real estate mogul’s optimism about Obama.
In March 2009, after the passage of the stimulus, Trump pointed – as the Obama administration itself has often done – to mistakes made by Obama’s predecessor as the primary origins of the nation’s economic woes.
“I think we have a president who is working very hard and trying very hard. He inherited a mess,” Trump said of Obama, adding that he believed the nation was on track for a quick recovery. “I really believe that it is going to get very good, and I think within two years it will be like the old days, but with some restrictions [on the economy.]”
It’s no secret that Trump has evolved on several GOP plank issues; including abortion (he was once pro-choice but recently explained his pro-life conversion) and health care (he wrote in a 2000 book “we must have universal healthcare.”)
But he has also praised specific plans backed by the Obama administration to jumpstart the economic recovery, some of them particularly reviled by the Tea Party constituency he hopes to court.
In February 2009, for example, Trump embraced Obama’s efforts to cap the salaries of Wall Street executives whose companies were receiving government support, saying “he’s absolutely right” to institute salary limits.
In the same interview, he hailed the young administration’s plans to inject funds into the economy, affirming that “I would certainly vote for a stimulus.”
The Donald has also repeatedly praised the Troubled Asset Relief Program (which passed under President George W. Bush and was backed by both 2008 presidential nominees), saying that the hastily-passed bank bailout bill saved the economy from certain disaster.
"A year ago, the government did the right thing or really I believe we would have been in a depression," he said in the fall of 2009.
And in December of that year, Trump praised the administration for meeting with banking executives but lamented the reluctance of financial organizations to do more to loosen more funds for loans. Their unwillingness to listen to the White House, he added, “show[ed] a great lack of respect for the president.”
By the way, Trump's naming of Obama as "the worst president ever" updates his previous statements about his least-favorite leader of the free world.
“I think Bush is probably the worst president in the history of the United States,” he said in March 2007.