President Donald Trump on Tuesday doubled down on his self-characterization as a "nationalist," rejecting claims that the word is code for "white nationalist" and adding that he meant he supported American economic interests over those of other countries.
"I've never heard that theory about being a nationalist. I've heard them all," Trump responded to a reporter who asked if the word was code for white nationalist. "But I'm somebody that loves our country. When I say a nationalist, I don't like it when Germany is paying 1 percent of GDP for NATO, and we're paying 4.3 percent. I don't like that."
Trump called himself a nationalist Monday night at a rally for Sen. Ted Cruz's reelection campaign in Houston. Trump's critics had long used the term to disparage the president as chauvinistic and parochial, but he's taken ownership of the word with pride.
The president made the remark Monday night in a rebuke of "globalist" Democrats, who he accused prioritize other countries' interests over those of the United States.
Trump acknowledged that the word had fallen out of favor in the mainstream, and his embrace of the word echoes his long disdain for politically correct language.
Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office on Tuesday, Trump reiterated his disapproval of financial imbalances between the world's major superpower and other countries including Saudi Arabia and Germany. He decried deals that had the United States paying for military programs abroad, keeping with his America First campaign platform.
"I love our country. And our country has taken second fiddle," Trump said on Tuesday. "If you look at the trade deals, and nobody knows it better than me. I'm knocking out some of the worst deals I've ever seen. We're giving all of our wealth, all of our money to other countries. And then they don't treat us properly."