PALM BEACH, Fla. - Donald Trump played the gracious host at his Mar-a-Lago estate for the the Republican Lincoln Day Dinner attended by hundreds of local political officials and party activists Thursday night.
The GOP is having a fierce debate about how to refocus its message after the 2012 election in which, among other things, it lost the growing Hispanic vote by landslide proportions. Trump--forever hinting at but never quite embracing his professed presidential ambitions--is sounding off.
I talked with Trump on a wide range of topics. Here is what he had to say.
On Immigration Reform:
"Something has to happen but the Republicans are going to have to be very careful. Look, we can't give away our great country."
On the Tea Party:
"I am a Republican but I believe strongly in the Tea Party and I love the people of the Tea Party. I love many of the things they represent and you know what, they love me."
On a Third political party:
"No, I wouldn't head it up but the Republicans are going to have to get very smart or there is going to be a third party."
On Economic Worries:
"We will soon have over 17 trillion in debt, a number no one ever dreamt possible. We are losing our economic power. China will soon be the biggest economic engine in the world. We won't be."
On Birther Conspiracy:
I asked Trump if he willing to put to rest the debunked birther conspiracy he helped push and acknowledge that President Obama was born in the United States. Trump replied, "No I'm not. I don't do that at all. I offered millions and millions of dollars to show some record. He didn't show the records. I would certainly not put that to bed and neither would about 50 percent of our people."
Donald Trump-combative and controversial as always--and one big voice at the intersection of politics and celebrity as the Republican Party tries to figure out how to broaden its appeal.
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