And then there was this statement, which he reiterated from his campaign, about creating jobs: "I said that I will be the greatest jobs producer that God ever created. And I mean that, I really -- I'm going to work very hard on that. We need certain amounts of other things, including a little bit of luck, but I think we're going to do a real job."
Twitter, of course, had fun with the grand promise, with some mocking his statement that a divine power creates "job producers." Others tried to guess who the greatest jobs producer ever created really was. (McDonald's founder Ray Kroc? The inventor of the steam engine?) Fact-checkers reminded readers about economists' long-standing debates over how much presidents actually influence job creation and the relatively strong job market Trump will inherit: Unemployment, for instance, is already less than five percent.
But beyond the economic argument against such a lofty statement is the leadership one. It defies the usual "under-promise, over-deliver" mantra for leaders in new roles: Set expectations high enough that they inspire people to work harder and move forward, but low enough that they can realistically be met. Instead, Trump is making a soaring promise about himself with plenty of potential to fall short -- one that's tailor-made for opposing campaign ads unless job growth rises exponentially under his watch.
Of course, Trump -- never one to lack in bombast or ego -- made such towering commitments the entire campaign. He made promises about providing the "biggest" or the "best" of many things, from tax cuts to equipment for troops. He has said he will make the auto industry in Michigan "bigger and better and stronger than ever before" and indeed, he has said already that he would be "the greatest jobs president that God ever created" when he formally announced his campaign in 2015. But why stop at jobs or tax cuts or stronger industries? In May, he promised voters "I will give you everything. I will give you what you've been looking for for 50 years. I'm the only one."
In other realms, new leaders treat such big promises more warily. CEOs of major corporations are typically more cautious, managing expectations each quarter to the penny with the people who judge their performance: Investors. When CEOs take new jobs, particularly ones defined as turnarounds, they often speak about the challenges they face in measured, if confident, tones.
Politicians, of course, are particularly fond of big pledges, promising during campaigns to deliver everything from job growth to tax cuts to lowering crime to stopping terrorism. On the campaign trail in 1992, Bill Clinton promised his economic strategy would "create millions of high-wage jobs and help America compete in the global economy."
In his acceptance speech in 2000, George W. Bush said "we will extend the promise of prosperity to every forgotten corner of this country." And during the 2012 campaign, Barack Obama promised he would create a million new manufacturing jobs by the end of 2016.
But Trump claiming that he will be the greatest that God created at producing jobs goes well beyond the usual campaign pledge. Not only does he make grand promises; many are concerned about how impulsive he'll be when he makes decisions regarding them. A Pew Research Center survey released earlier this week found that a majority of Americans -- 58 percent -- think Trump will be too "impulsive" in his decision-making as president. Thirty-four percent said they thought his approach to decision-making would be "about right," and just 4 percent said he would be too cautious.
Unsurprisingly, the survey's results broke down along party lines, with just 22 percent of conservative Republicans saying it was a concern. But 40 percent of respondents that identified as moderate or liberal Republicans said they were worried Trump's decision-making style could be too impulsive, and an overwhelming percentage of Democrats said the same.
Making the promise that he will be God's greatest creator of jobs again now, as he transitions from the fervor of the campaign trail to the more sober work of governing, gives Trump's promise much more weight. Even if we don't take that pledge literally -- as we've been warned not to do -- it still sets expectations very, very high. And that's not a place many leaders, at least if they take promises seriously, usually like to start off.