Conservatism According to Donald Trump

By W. James Antle, III | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, January 14, 2016 | Go to article overview

Conservatism According to Donald Trump


W. James Antle, III, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


Even conservatives who've never been hostile to Donald Trump are starting to ask how conservative the Republican front-runner really is. His enemies in the Republican Party have always claimed only one answer is backed up by the evidence: not very.

The Washington Examiner decided to go straight to the source and ask Trump himself. He defended his conservatism, but not always on his conservative critics' terms.

First, the businessman argued he was growing conservatism and its primary political vehicle, the Republican Party. He didn't mention Ronald Reagan and the Reagan Democrats, but he might have cited his big rallies in Lowell and Worcester -- two blue-collar cities in Massachusetts, a Democratic state that twice went for Ronald Reagan but hasn't come close to voting for another Republican presidential candidate since -- as examples. Trump did say he would carry a number of states that haven't been in the GOP column since Reagan or George H.W. Bush in 1988.

"If you think about it, if you take a look at what I've done, I've brought millions and millions of people to the Republican Party, and to the conservative party, because, as an example, the debate had 24 million people," Trump told the Examiner's Byron York in an exclusive interview in Iowa. "If I wasn't in the debate, would it have had three, or four, or two, or what would it have been?"

The former reality TV star characteristically said the television news ratings were proof of his success, but added that the GOP and the right were benefiting too. "[T]hat focus is a very important focus," Trump said, "because other people are allowed to take advantage of all of the eyeballs that I'm bringing to the screen."

Asked what conservatism meant to him, Trump didn't list a litany of policy positions on taxes, social issues or government spending. "Well, I think it's just a conservative value," he said. "I'm very conservative fiscally." He maintained the country was being destroyed in part by its vast national debt, which he promised to get back under control.

Trump's version of conservatism includes conserving American jobs and interests. "[W]e're losing our jobs to everybody," he told the Examiner, repeating his usual riff about China, Vietnam, "Mexico, always."

Finally, Trump argued he was conservative because he is the candidate many self-described conservatives support. "In terms of conservative, I've had tremendous polling numbers with conservatives, I think to a large extent because of the border," he told the Examiner. In the past, he's mentioned his polling numbers among Tea Party supporters and evangelicals.

All this seems to reinforce the conservative critique of Trump. While he criticized Obamacare and said he would reinstate the pro- life Mexico City policy (when asked), he mostly didn't defend his record of conservative policy positions. …

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