Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has been warning the American people that others are "laughing at us" since long before he started his campaign. Here are some of his more notable declarations. (Gillian Brockell/The Washington Post)

In speech after speech, interview after interview and tweet after tweet, the Republican party's leading presidential candidate can't say it enough: "The world is laughing at us."

Donald J. Trump has issued that warning in some form at least 103 times, going as far back as 1987, according to a Washington Post review of his public statements. Lately, it tends to come with a follow-up promise: Elect him and the giggling will stop.

The Post's review of Trump's statements is far from comprehensive; many are from his Twitter account, and the majority were made in the more easily searchable past five years. Partial though the analysis may be, Trump's frequent caution that the world is laughing at us reveals something about his worldview, if not his psyche: A once-exceptional America has transformed into the butt of a global joke, Trump believes, and its reputation must be restored.

It's hard to say how long Trump has sounded the alarm on America's ridicule. (Go ahead, try searching for some combination of "Donald Trump" and "laughing.") But it's fair to say it has been a key concern for the billionaire businessman for at least three decades.

In the fall of 1987, Trump even took out full-page advertisements in The Washington Post, the New York Times and the Boston Globe to argue that the United States should charge Japan for help protecting its oil tankers passing through the Persian Gulf.

This is how Trump ended the advertisement, which was presented as an open letter:


The concluding sentence from an open letter Trump published in three newspapers in 1987. (Washington Post archives)

The letter — developed by the team that created the ads for President Ronald Reagan's 1984 reelection campaign — twice notes the tittering directed at America.

"The world is laughing at America's politicians as we protect ships we don't own, carrying oil we don't need, destined for allies who won't help," Trump wrote at the time.

He returned to that point in his final sentence, too: "Let's not let our great country be laughed at anymore."


Page A9 of The Washington Post's Sept. 2, 1987, edition. (Washington Post archives)

Since then, Trump has repeated his concern — that this great nation has become a global laughingstock — dozens of times, in numerous forums.

What follows is an abbreviated list of what Trump has said on the issue — and who he believes is laughing at us.

'The Communist Chinese are laughing their heads off.'

Of the more than 100 perceived instances of foreigners chuckling at America, China came up far more than any other country or group. "The world," or some variant of that, ranked second, while OPEC came next. Combinations of actors — like China and OPEC, or China, Japan and India — ranked fourth, followed by Mexico, Iran and Russia (and its apparently laughter-prone leader, Vladimir Putin) in fifth place.

 


"I know many of the people in China, I know many of the big business people, and they're laughing at us," Trump said on Fox News in 2010. "They think we're so stupid."

A year later, he attacked China again in a YouTube video titled "China is laughing..."

Three years later, he posted a similar video to Instagram with the same three words as comment.

In 2011, Trump also published "Time to Get Tough: Making America #1 Again."

In it, he cited China more than once for snickering at America.


"Time to Get Tough," page 42. (Google Books screenshot)

"Time to Get Tough," page 91. (Google Books screenshot)

And, in a 2014 speech at the National Press Club in Washington, Trump again accused the Chinese of giggling at America behind its back.

"They're taking our jobs and we don't even know it," Trump said. "Then, the president of China comes over and we have a state dinner for him, honoring him — what a wonderful guy.

"And he's laughing all the way back to China."

'The world is laughing at us. We're like a bunch of patsies.'

While Trump has mentioned China most often, he also frequently says the world is giggling at America, which he repeatedly describes as a global "laughingstock."


"Time to Get Tough," page 2. (Google Books screenshot)

In a 2012 speech at Liberty University, Trump put it simply and bluntly: "The world is laughing at us."

He added: "We're like a bunch of patsies."

While he often issues such statements without placing blame, Trump has also frequently credits President Obama for damaging the strength of the nation's reputation.

Obama, Trump has suggested, is the joke-writer-in-chief, and there's nothing funny about it.

OPEC is 'laughing at how stupid we are'

Trump doesn't just see other countries laughing at America.

In his eyes, even the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries chortles at us behind closed doors.

"They're sitting around their table just setting the price of oil and laughing at us because we have no leadership," he said in a 2012 interview on CNBC.

"China is raping this country," he said in a 2011 speech. "OPEC is laughing at us."

'After Syria, our enemies are laughing!'

Suffice to say, Trump sees laughter everywhere. And he hates it.

"Our country is in serious, serious trouble. Whether it's OPEC — the OPEC nations — or China or virtually anybody that we do business with throughout the world, they take advantage of us," he said while backing Republican Mitt Romney for president in 2012. "They laugh at us, they can't believe their good fortunes. I deal with these people."

Indeed, he has issued similar assessments of:

MEXICO

IRAN


"Time to Get Tough," page 97. (Google Books screenshot)

RUSSIA

PUTIN

THE TALIBAN

THE ISLAMIC STATE

'THE MULLAHS'

THE PERSIANS

"The Persians are great negotiators," he said in a July interview with CNN. "They are laughing at the stupidity of the deal we’re making on nuclear."

THE ARAB LEAGUE

AND SAUDI ARABIA

The Middle Eastern nation's citizens "take such advantage of us with the oil ... and they laugh at this country," Trump told Fox News.

That was in 1999. The laughter hasn't stopped since.


Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Farmington, N.H., on Jan. 25. (Gretchen Ertl/Reuters)