Trump says he doesn't want a 'poor person' to be in charge of US economy

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has a net worth of about $2.5bn 

Alexandra Wilts
Washington DC
Thursday 22 June 2017 15:07
Donald Trump: 'I don't want a poor person in a cabinet role'

Defending his appointment of a billionaire to promote the country’s economic growth, Donald Trump has said that he does not want poor people to hold economic roles in his administration.

Speaking at a rally in Iowa, the President declared: “Somebody said why did you appoint a rich person to be in charge of the economy? No it’s true. And Wilbur’s [commerce secretary Wilbur Ross] a very rich person in charge of commerce. I said: ‘Because that’s the kind of thinking we want.’”

Mr Ross, an investor, has a net worth of about $2.5bn.

The president explained that Mr Ross and White House economic adviser Gary Cohn “had to give up a lot to take these jobs” and that Cohn in particular, a former president of investment bank Goldman Sachs, “went from massive pay days to peanuts”.

Trump added: “And I love all people, rich or poor, but in those particular positions I just don’t want a poor person. Does that make sense?”

“If you insist, I’ll do it. But I like it better this way, right?”

Mr Trump has frequently touted himself as a champion of the “forgotten men and women” across the country.

During his inauguration speech in January, he said, “For too long, a small group in our nation's Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.”

Mr Trump proceeded to appoint millionaires and billionaires to fill cabinet positions, making his administration the wealthiest in US history.

Ahead of the rally, the President touched down in rainy Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and headed to a local community college, where he got a look at agriculture technology innovations before leading a campaign-style rally.

He revelled in Georgia Republican Karen Handel's congressional victory in an election viewed as an early referendum on his presidency.

“We're 5-0 in special elections,” Mr Trump said in front of a boisterous crowd that packed a downtown arena. “The truth is, people love us ... they haven't figured it out yet.”

He also applauded Republican Ralph Norman, who notched a slimmer-than-expected win in a special election to fill the South Carolina congressional seat vacated by Mick Mulvaney, his budget director, and mocked Handel's challenger, Jon Ossoff, saying the Democrats “spent $30 million on this kid who forgot to live in the district.”

Mr Trump, no stranger to victory laps, turned his visit to a battleground state he captured in November into a celebration of his resilience despite the cloud of investigations that has enveloped his administration and sent his poll numbers tumbling.

With the appearance in Cedar Rapids, he has held five rallies in the first five months in office.

Associated Press contributed to this report

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