Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attacked both his Republican challengers and leading Democrat Hillary Clinton for being in the pocket of special interest groups. In a wide ranging speech at a campaign stop in Birch Run, Michigan on 11 August, Trump also promised to put billionaire investor Carl Icahn in charge of trade negotiations with China and Japan.

"I said Carl (Icahn), you know he's made a fortune, he's a great negotiator, talented guy, very smart guy. Went to Princeton, one of the top students at Princeton. A lot of people don't know that about Carl. And there are other people like Carl, that are brilliant people and great negotiators. They don't sleep at night. Like me, we toss and turn and toss and turn, we're thinking, always thinking. Ah, yay yay. It's not easy on the family. But we're tossing and turning and scheming. That's what they are. There's no eighteen hours of sleep. Does that make sense? So I said 'hey Carl'. In fact now the press will call Carl I'm sure. But Carl Icahn, great. I said 'Carl if I get this thing I want to put you in charge of China and Japan, can you handle both of them? China and Japan.' He said 'Yeah I'll do it, I'll do it, I want to do it. You know just relax, everything will work out just fine. We'll make great deals," said Trump.

If former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was forced to choose between following through on moving a car factory back to the United States or giving in to special interests, he would ultimately cave in, said Trump.

"I said what would Jeb do, and Hillary. And by the way all the politicians, let's just use one of them as an example, okay? All of them, because they're all controlled, one hundred percent. So, he'll say, 'I don't really want to let the plant be there, I want it built in the United States. We say 'oh we have a great president'. But then what happens? He gets a call from one of his fundraisers. And they say 'Jeb, you can't do that. You had Ford make contributions to you. You had other people make contributions to you. And they want it to happen. You have made special interests, you had special interests. Your biggest lobbyists represents Ford. He gave you a million dollars. You can't possibly do that after he raised all that money for you. And you know what he's going to say? Oh. Ah. Then go back to sleep, okay?" he said.

Despite Trump's outsider appeal, he fared no better against Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton than other Republican candidates. In a head-to-head match-up, Clinton would beat Trump by 43 percent to 29 percent, a Reuters-Ipsos poll found. Clinton would beat other Republican candidates such as Bush, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Texas Senator Ted Cruz by similar margins.