Donald Trump told the New York Times last year that his only focus group is his own mind
Credit: Steve Pope/Getty

No one is safe from the Donald Trump nickname machine, which has introduced the world to such monikers as “Crooked Hillary” and “Lyin’ Ted Cruz.” But how does the presumptive GOP candidate come up with his lowdown labels? Without aide – if you ask Trump himself.

“I feel it, it’s an instinct,” Trump told the New York Times Magazine of crafting campaign nicknames. The billionaire businessman also told the publication last fall that he doesn’t rely on outsiders to prepare digs, explaining, “I do focus groups right here,” pressing his thumbs to his forehead.

And each nickname has its own origin and creation story, according to Trump. “Crooked Hillary,” which he first coined for Hillary Clinton during an April 16 rally in New York, according to ABC News, “works” and “flows,” he told the Times. The insult stems from Clinton’s publicized email scandal, and is meant to highlight the former Secretary of State’s trustworthiness.

Clinton’s feathers aren’t ruffled, however. “Don’t expect us to engage directly on his attacks like ‘Crooked Hillary,’ ” a Clinton aide told the Los Angeles Times. “He does best when he gets others to engage in insults.”

Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s steadfast opponent, has been dubbed “Crazy Bernie.” The title has made it into Trump’s speeches, and onto his social media page: “I don’t want to hit Crazy Bernie Sanders too hard yet because I love watching what he is doing to Crooked Hillary. His time will come,” Trump wrote on Wednesday.

The 71-year-old Vermont senator earned the title “crazy,” Trump explained to Fox News this week, “because he’s not very good.”

When it comes to his fallen opponents, Trump told the Times that their special monikers are gone but not forgotten. “Lyin’ Ted Cruz” – who bowed out of the presidential race earlier this month – first earned his title during the March 3 Republican debate, according to ABC. At one point, the “Lyin’ Ted” nickname was a regular rally chant – affirmation, Trump told the Times.

“1 For 38” John Kasich didn’t receive his nickname until April, according to Politico. The dig was a clear call to Kasich’s win record at that point of the race. The title changed as the primaries stacked up, with Trump switching to “1 for 41” Kasich in a statement, according to Politico.

Other retired campaign designations? “Low Energy” Jeb Bush and “Liddle” Marco Rubio (the spelling is important, Trump told the Times).

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The takedowns extend far beyond just the 2016 presidential election candidates, though. The latest on the chopping block? Sen. Elizabeth Warren is now “Goofy,” Trump wrote on Twitter this week.

Warren, who went on a social media rant against Trump in response, found her nickname laughable.

“‘Goofy,’ @realDonaldTrump? For a guy with ‘the best words’ that’s a pretty lame nickname,” she charged. “Weak!”