In an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon on Tuesday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump responded to recent criticism from fellow GOP aspirant and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, that he is not a true conservative because he was once a card-carrying Democrat who professed liberal views.
In his response, Trump compared himself to Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, implying that it did not matter that he was once a Democrat, because Reagan, the conservative hero, was also once a Democrat and a liberal before he became Republican and conservative.
“If you look at Ronald Reagan, and he was a Democrat… with pretty liberal bent, and he became a Republican with a somewhat conservative — I wouldn’t say very, but he was a conservative Republican.”
Trump also tried to deflect concerns about his past affiliation with the Democratic Party, arguing that “in New York City, everybody was a Democrat.”
“If you run for political office, whoever wins the Democratic primary is automatically – there was almost no election, because the Republicans hardly exist in New York City.”
Trump said his candidacy would “energize” the GOP voter base, unlike the 2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney who was unable to inspire high GOP voters turnout at the 2012 general election.
“When Mitt Romney ran, there was a tremendous — millions of people that are Republicans and conservative Republicans and evangelicals and people that I have a great relationship with, they sat home for some reason, and they did not vote, you know that, and I’m talking about millions of people.”
Trump argued that had Romney been able to energize the Republican base, he would have won the 2012 general election.
Trump has also implied in recent comments that he would make a better GOP presidential candidate than Jeb Bush because he is able to energize the Republican voter base better than Bush, whom he described as a “low-energy kind of guy.”
Trump’s comments allude to the belief held by many of his conservative supporters that contrary to the view expressed by some pundits that Trump needs the Latino vote to win the general election, he won’t need the Latino vote if he is able to energize the core GOP base.
But based on Pew Research Center 2014 data, only 23 percent of voters identify as Republicans. Thirty-nine percent identify as independents, while 32 percent identify as Democrats.
Forty-eight percent of independents identify as Democrat-leaning, while 39 percent identify as Republican-leaning.
However, based on Gallup 2014 data, only 24 percent of Americans identify as liberal. Thirty-eight percent of Americans identify as politically conservative, while 34 percent identify as moderates.