Says Andrew Stiles, “Portions of the aggrieved right are rallying around someone who was basically a member of Team Clinton until recently.” Basically, yeah. BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski dug up this old interview with Trump by CNN eight years ago in which he praised HillaryCare 2.0, a plan that came replete with an individual mandate (Obama’s health-care plan at the time didn’t, ironically enough), and called Her Majesty “very, very capable.” He wasn’t just blowing smoke with the compliments either, notes Kaczynski:
Trump, who announced Tuesday he was running for the Republican presidential nomination, has also given large sums of money to the Clinton Foundation. His name is listed on the Clinton Foundation’s website as having donated between $100,000 and $250,000.
As noted by Bloomberg Politics, Hillary Clinton also had a front row seat at Trump’s 2005 wedding and Bill, unable to go to wedding, attended a black-tie reception at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach.
Nothing says “friendship” in ClintonWorld like money, and Trump’s given her campaigns plenty of that:
She’s not the only Democrat he’s donated to and his fondness for Hillary is by no means his only conservative heresy. Kaczynski wrote a separate post yesterday ticking off all the RINO-y positions Trump held 15 years ago, when he first started eyeing politics — single-payer health care, an assault weapons ban, a new tax on the rich, and of course abortion rights. (His conversion on that last one didn’t come until many years later.) But none of that matters, right? Compare the reception Trump gets nowadays from conservative populists to the disdain in which they held, and continue to hold, Mitt Romney. Romney started his political life in the 90s as a moderate Republican, pro-choice and keen to note during his Senate run in Massachusetts in 1994 that he was an independent during the Reagan years. He’s never shaken the perception that he’s a squish at heart who mouthed conservative platitudes only because his true feelings wouldn’t play in a GOP primary.
Trump is a much worse heretic on policy but because he’s in sync with populists attitudinally, wiling to throw hard jabs at Obama and establishment Republicans, his claims that he’s evolved over time into an orthodox-ish conservative will be taken more seriously than Romney’s. (One common defense of his 2007 praise Hillary, I imagine, will be to note that Jeb Bush gave Hillary Clinton an award for public service just this year. That’s more an indictment of Jeb than a defense of Trump, though, no?) It goes to show how much the label “RINO” has to do with personal style rather than policy. Because Trump’s combative, because his candidacy offends the mainstream media, because he touts simplistic policy solutions to hard problems like stopping ISIS by “blasting the hell” out of their oil fields, he enjoys a cachet with some righty populists that a milquetoast with the same policies would never have. I’m honestly curious to see how the audience reacts when he asks Ted Cruz at one of the debates whether he’s constitutionally eligible to be president.
Here’s the easiest prediction of the election, dedicated to everyone who thinks Trump’s days of boosting Hillary are behind him. He’ll spend the next six months tearing down the most credible candidates in the GOP field, and then, when he eventually drops out of the race, he’ll reserve his harshest criticism during next year’s general-election campaign for the GOP nominee rather than Hillary.
Update: How many “conservative” populists count Bill Clinton as their favorite president of the last 25 years? I know one.