FACT CHECK: Did Barack Obama Say, ‘The American Dream Is To Be Donald Trump’?

Matt Noel | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims former President Barack Obama once said, “The American dream is to be Donald Trump.”

Verdict: False

Obama did make a reference to Trump in a 1991 paper but at no point did he make the statement attributed to him in the Facebook post.

Fact Check:

The quote has cropped up online over the past few years, with this particular post claiming that Obama made the statement equating the American Dream to Trump in 1991. (RELATED: Did Obama’s Portrait Fall Off The Wall During The Unveiling Of Trump’s Portrait At The Colorado Capitol?)

But there’s no evidence that Obama ever said or wrote the exact statement attributed to him in the Facebook post. In fact, an internet search revealed that credible online sources have reported on the quote in order to debunk it.

The former president and schoolmate Robert Fisher did co-write a paper for a Harvard Law class in April 1991 that mentions Trump. An excerpt from that unpublished paper appeared in author David Garrow’s 2017 book “Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama.”

Here’s the relevant excerpt from Obama and Fisher’s unpublished paper, per The Hill:

[Americans have] a continuing normative commitment to the ideals of individual freedom and mobility, values that extend beyond the issue of race in the American mind. The depth of this commitment may be summarily dismissed as the unfounded optimism of the average American – I may not be Donald Trump now, but just you wait; if I don’t make it, my children will.

The reference to Trump, Snopes noted, was not an example of the American dream but rather an example of the “unfounded optimism of the average American.” The paper overall argued black Americans should “shift away from rights rhetoric and toward the language of opportunity,” according to Snopes.

Matt Noel

Fact Check Reporter
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