Donald Trump Insists That Wages Are ‘Too High’

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Donald J. Trump on Wednesday morning repeated a statement he made the night before in the Republican presidential debate: that wages are “too high” in the United States, an argument he made to explain his opposition to raising the minimum wage.

The remark is at odds with the otherwise populist message Mr. Trump has often espoused in his presidential campaign, including railing against potential cuts to Medicare and Social Security.

And they are also at odds with the bases of both parties, even as candidates differ on how to address wage stagnation.

In the Fox Business News debate, Mr. Trump said he couldn’t endorse the demand to more than double the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, from $7.25, as candidates such as Senator Bernie Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic nomination, have called for.

“We are a country that’s being beaten on every front, economically, militarily. There is nothing we do now to win,” said Mr. Trump, adding at another point that “our wages are too high.”

In an interview Wednesday morning on “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, the co-host Mika Brzezinski raised the topic again, which gave Mr. Trump the chance to clarify his remarks from the debate. She pointed out the current minimum wage, saying, “Donald, nobody can live on that.”

Mr. Trump responded: “Our taxes are too high. Our wages are too high. We have to compete with other countries.”

The remark was also out of step with Mr. Trump’s general approach in Tuesday night’s debate. Known for his bombast and theatrical displays in prior debates, Mr. Trump, who has been at the top of most polls for roughly four months, spent much of the evening in Milwaukee appearing to try to seem more presidential. He seemed better prepared and armed with statistics that had seemed to elude him in previous debates.

Other Republicans at the debate, including Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, generally disapproved of raising the minimum wage, showing fault lines with Democrats, who have broadly called for an increase. Hillary Rodham Clinton has not endorsed the $15-an-hour minimum wage, instead aiming for $12. But no other candidate has suggested that wages are high enough already.

“It’s a tough position politically,” Mr. Trump told Ms. Brzezinski about his view of the minimum wage, adding that the “best thing for me to say” would be to raise it.

He marveled at where he found himself in the polls.

“I never respected politicians,” Mr. Trump said. “Now I’m a politician.”

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