Here are the places where Donald Trump and the Republican Party disagree

Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, appear together Monday on the first night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Donald Trump’s crude rhetoric is not the only thing that has sparked division between the Republican Party’s presidential nominee and some of its establishment leaders. Trump also has spurned the Grand Old Party on many of its most cherished views.

Their rifts over trade, Social Security, foreign policy and the size of government are likely to outlast Trump, win or lose, because they expose the degree to which many Republican voters disagree with party orthodoxy.

“You have a guy who’s in between these parties. He’s not really a Republican. He’s not a Democrat,” Antonio Sabato Jr., a Calvin Klein model who won a spot as a prime-time Republican National Convention speaker, said in a television interview this week. “He comes in and says, ‘I love this country. I want to do what’s best for this country.’ ”

Some Republicans in the “Never Trump” movement are hoping that a big loss by Trump will force the party to shed his positions and either return to the old doctrine or reform the platform for a new era. Other Republicans see Trump, and at least some of his ideas, as a vehicle to reach disaffected middle-class voters who have aligned in recent elections with Democrats. 

Trump himself has not given details on many of his policy beliefs and has offered contradictory comments on others. Here are some ways he is at least partially at odds with the party.

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Trump: He has said he’s in favor of free trade, but has been the most anti-globalist presidential candidate in a generation. During a speech last month in Pennsylvania, he criticized several major trade pacts, including the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans Pacific Partnership, as bad deals, threatening to withdraw from NAFTA and renewing opposition to TPP. He threatened China and other countries with tariffs and taxes. He praised British citizens for voting to withdraw from the European Union. The same week, he called on Americans to pay more for consumer products if it means saving jobs. 

GOP: It has long considered itself the party of free trade, arguing that international commerce helps American consumers pay less for products and benefits U.S. companies and workers who are able to sell more goods and services overseas.

Social Security

Trump: He has said repeatedly that he will save Social Security without making cuts.

GOP: Many in the party have argued the government needs to raise the retirement age, cut the growth of benefits or create personal savings accounts to prevent insolvency in the program.

Military commitments

Trump: He has said the U.S. spends too much defending Japan, European allies and others who depend on U.S. military might and even has suggested that the U.S. might be better served if Japan had nuclear arms, a position he later recanted. 

GOP: The party and much of the foreign policy establishment has long considered those commitments crucial to America’s influence and security, while agreeing with U.S. policy to limit the growth of nuclear-armed states. Japan in particular agreed to limit its defense capabilities after World War II.


Trump: He has made sympathetic comments about Russian Leader Vladimir Putin, at points saying he would “get along very well with him.” The Trump campaign reportedly worked to keep out any suggestion in the GOP platform that the U.S. should give weapons to Ukraine for its fight with Russia, according to the Washington Post.

GOP: Mitt Romney, the 2012 nominee, called Russia “our No. 1 geopolitical foe.” Other top Republicans, including Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), have tried to pressure the Obama administration to send arms to Ukraine.

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Trump: Trump has notably called for a massive border wall, mass deportations and a temporary ban on all Muslims entering the country.

GOP: Party leaders, in a postmortem following the 2012 election, called for an end to divisive rhetoric and for passing an immigration overhaul that could provide a pathway to citizenship for about 11 million immigrants in the country illegally. Still, many lawmakers campaigned on the threat of immigration, and the GOP-led House refused to consider an immigration overhaul that passed the Senate in 2013.

Planned Parenthood / abortion

Trump: A former supporter of abortion rights, Trump now says he opposes abortion, except in cases of rape, incest or to protect the health of the mother. He has made inconsistent statements about funding other aspects of Planned Parenthood, including stating once “it does do wonderful things” for women’s health. But he ultimately promised not to fund the group.

GOP: Most Republicans are adamantly opposed to funding the group, with some even briefly threatening to shut down the government over the issue in 2015. The platform makes no exceptions in its opposition to abortion, in what major advocates called the most pro-life platform in a generation.


Trump: He said Caitlyn Jenner could use whichever bathroom she wanted. But in a May interview with the Washington Post, he said he would rescind President Obama’s directives designed to protect transgender Americans in schools and their health coverage. Trump expressed a willingness to “protect all people” but said the issue should be addressed at the state level.

GOP: The platform adopted this week says that Obama’s “edict to the states concerning restrooms, locker rooms and other facilities” — allowing transgender students to use the bathroom correlating with their chosen gender — is “illegal, dangerous and ignores privacy issues.” It adds: “We salute the several states which have filed suit against it.”

Financial regulation

Trump: Trump supported language in the party platform to restore “the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which prohibits commercial banks from engaging in high-risk investment.” The issue is huge for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and other liberals who decried President Bill Clinton for repealing it and believe in breaking up big banks. Conversely, Trump said he would abolish Dodd-Frank, the financial regulatory legislation approved after the 2008 crisis.

GOP: The party’s financial wing has long opposed calls to restore Glass-Steagall, arguing that it would not have averted the financial crisis. The Chamber of Commerce, a stalwart GOP ally, said this week that its return would “only hurt our economy by attempting to turn back the clock more than 80 years.” Many Republicans support getting rid of Dodd-Frank.

Twitter: @noahbierman

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