In late April 2015, a month before Trump officially announced his candidacy, he spoke at an event called "Celebrating the American Dream" that was hosted in Houston by the Texas Patriots PAC, a local tea party outfit. The mogul sat in an oversized leather chair and fielded questions from Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale, a prominent local businessman. About an hour into the program, McIngvale posed Trump this query: "Define American exceptionalism. Does American exceptionalism still exist? And what do we do to grow American exceptionalism?"Trump agrees with Putin, who wrote in The New York Times:
Trump didn't hesitate to shoot down the premise of the question, saying he didn't "like the term." He questioned whether the United States was "more exceptional" and "more outstanding" than other nations. He also said that those who refer to American exceptionalism were "insulting the world" and offending people in other countries, such as Russia, China, Germany, and Japan. It is "not a nice term," he said, maintaining it was wrong to equate patriotism with a belief in American exceptionalism. He derided politicians who use the phrase.
Explaining his negative reaction to this idea long cherished and promoted by Republicans and Democrats, Trump said, "perhaps that's because I don't have a very big ego, and I don't need terms like that." Audience members laughed in response. Trump added, "I want to take everything back from the world that we've given them. We've given them so much." He suggested that were he to become president, he would make the United States exceptional.
My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made onAmerican exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.