As the number of Republican presidential hopefuls dwindles, and businessman Donald Trump continues to succeed, there are fewer candidates — and multiple Republican delegates — pushing Trump toward the Republican nomination. With each bold statement, Trump seems to be gaining momentum and enjoying rising poll numbers.
Throughout his campaign, Trump has artfully tapped into anti-establishment sentiment within the Republican Party and collected support from conservatives. However, Trump was not always the devoted conservative he claims to be. Recently, the BBC summarized Trump’s political past: “He was a Republican, then he was a pro-choice Democrat, and now he’s a fire-breathing, anti-immigration populist conservative.”
So what does Donald Trump actually believe? Chances are we will never know, but InsideGov wanted to see if he’s been consistent with his conservative message. What better way to look into these claims than hearing from the man himself? InsideGov found 22 instances in which Trump clearly seemed as though he was more liberal than he lets on, and organized them from least to most recent.
#22. The Time He Opposed the War on Drugs
In late 1989, President George H. W. Bush continued the War on Drugs, recommending that Congress allocate $9.4 billion toward eradicating the illegal drug problem in the U.S. While this plan was nearly unanimously backed by Republicans, Trump told the Miami Herald in 1990, “We’re losing badly the war on drugs. You have to legalize drugs to win that war. You have to take the profit away from these drug czars.”
#21. The Time He Proposed A Massive Tax on the Rich
Back in the late 1990s, Donald Trump sounded eerily like Bernie Sanders when he ran a presidential campaign under the Reform Party. He was focused on eliminating the national debt by imposing a 14.25 percent tax on individuals with a net worth of over $10 million.
#20. …And Promised to Cut Taxes for the 99 Percent
Not only was Trump’s 1999 plan going to increase taxes for the super-wealthy, Trump wanted to cut taxes for most Americans. He stated, “The other 99 percent of the people would get deep reductions in their federal income taxes.” He went on to call his plan “a win-win for the American people.”
#19. The Time He Did Not Approve of Republicans
In 1999, Trump said Republicans were “too crazy right.” Then, in 2004, Trump asserted that the economy does better under Democratic administrations during an interview with Wolf Blitzer.
#18. The Time He Supported Universal Healthcare
Trump considers Obamacare to be an absolute failure. In 2015, he called Obamacare “a disaster” and “the big lie.” In 2000, however, Trump preached about the benefits of universal healthcare in his book “The America We Deserve.” More recently, he’s claimed that he would replace Obamacare with something better, but has not been particularly clear about the specifics.
#17. The Time He Supported Gun Control
In January 2016, conservative representatives strongly opposed gun restrictions when President Obama put forth an executive order expanding background checks. At one point, Trump may have disagreed with the conservative view on gun control. In his book, “The America We Deserve,” which was published in July 2000, Trump stated, “I support the ban on assault weapons and I support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun.”
#16. The Time He Was Pro-Choice
According to OnTheIssues, Trump was openIy pro-choice for most of his career. In 2000, he said, “I support a woman’s right to choose, but I am uncomfortable with the procedures.” Although Trump claims that his views on the issue have changed, statements like “I believe it is a personal decision that should be left to the women and their doctors” (which he stated in 1999) show that he once leaned pro-choice.
#15. The Time He Supported the Civil Rights Act
Trump’s book briefly discusses the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay man who was brutally murdered in Wyoming in 1998. He writes about the importance of a “greater tolerance for diversity” and, according to the Human Rights Campaign, Trump stated in 2000 that the Civil Rights Act should be amended “to include a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation.”
#14. The Time He Claimed He Was A Democrat
Considering what Trump has said about Hillary Clinton and President Obama while campaigning, it’s difficult to imagine a younger Donald Trump having anything to do with the Democratic Party. However, in 2004 he told Wolf Blitzer that he “identified more as a Democrat.”
#13. The Time He Supported Marriage Equality
It’s clear where conservatives like Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) stand on marriage equality, as well as most members of the GOP; they consider marriage to be between a man and a woman. However, it wasn’t long ago that Trump seemed very open to the idea. In 2005, he congratulated Elton John on his nuptials with David Furnish stating, “If two people dig each other, they dig each other. Good luck, Elton. Good luck, David.”
#12. The Time He Supported Hillary Clinton
Along with Trump’s friendly relationship with the Clintons in the past, Trump has voiced support for Hillary Clinton’s political capabilites multiple times in public. He told CNN reporter Wolf Blitzer in 2007, “Hillary’s always surrounded herself with very good people. I think Hillary would do a good job.”
#11. The Time He Voted Democrat
Throughout this election cycle, the Republican candidates have highlighted their conservative values and trashed the Democratic Party at every turn. Although Trump has taken to slighting the Obama administration and Clinton as much as possible while campaigning, he sang a different tune in 2007. Trump told Wolf Blitzer, “I’m very much independent in that way. I go for the person, not necessarily the party. I mean, I vote for Republicans and I vote for Democrats.”
#10. The Time He Snubbed George W. Bush
Trump was very clear in his 2008 interview with Wolf Blitzer that he completely opposed the George W. Bush administration. He said, “I think George W. Bush is probably the worst President in the history of the United States.” He even said if Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had impeached George W. Bush, “it would have been a wonderful thing.”
#9. The Time He Was Chummy With The Clintons
Just because Trump spent time with the Clintons in the 1990s doesn’t make him a blue-blooded liberal. Still, politicians have called out Trump for his relationship with the Clintons. “Mr. Trump has a close friendship with Bill and Hillary Clinton,” Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) said in July 2015. “They were at his last wedding. He has contributed to the Clintons’ foundation. He has contributed to Mrs. Clinton’s Senate campaigns.”
Trump also praised Clinton in his book “The America We Deserve,” and in 2008, he complimented her on his blog: “Hillary is smart, tough and a very nice person, and so is her husband. Bill Clinton was a great president. They are fine people.”
#8. The Time He Supported Government Welfare Programs
While campaigning in 2015, Donald Trump told Iowans at a rally in Des Moines how important government welfare programs are to him. He avowed not to cut Social Security or Medicare. The other candidate who has passionately rallied against Social Security cuts? Bernie Sanders.
#7. The Time He Supported Social Security
The recent budget proposed by Congress calls for large cuts to Social Security. Republicans support these cuts; Ohio Gov. and presidential hopeful John Kasich told voters that they would have to “get over it” if they were concerned about Social Security cuts. Trump, however, has made it clear that he opposes this decision. At a rally in 2015, he enthusiastically stated that he would not cut Social Security.
#6. The Time He Promoted Fair Trade
Fair trade policies seem to have a liberal tilt; Sanders has constantly addressed the issue, advocating for “trade policies that are fair for the American worker, fair for poor people around the world.” Trump appeared to have a very similar view when he discussed it on MSNBC in June 2015.
#5. The Time He Defended Planned Parenthood
Although the Republican Party came out strongly against Planned Parenthood in 2015, Trump defended the nonprofit when he stated, “they do good things that aren’t having to do with abortion.” Considering that some Republicans are vehemently opposed to the organization, Trump acknowledging that Planned Parenthood does even a sliver of good contradicts what many GOP members believe.
#4. The Time He Struggled with Bible Verses
Conservatives and liberals alike have called Trump out on the strength of his religious convictions. While speaking at Liberty University, a Christian college in Virginia in January 2016, Trump mistakenly said “Two Corinthians” rather than “Second Corinthians,” and offended many students with his casual use of the word “hell.”
#3. The Time He Agreed With Marijuana Legalization
Many conservatives are generally opposed to the legalization of marijuana, including candidates Marco Rubio and Ben Carson. While there is still a gray area concerning medical marijuana, Democrats generally agree with legalization more than Republicans. In 2016, Trump told Fox News that he was “a hundred percent” in favor of the legalization of medical marijuana.
It also appears as though Trump does not completely oppose recreational legalization. At a rally in October 2015, he said, “I love Colorado and the people are great, but there’s a question as to how it’s all working out there, you know? That’s not going exactly trouble-free. So I really think that we should study Colorado, see what’s happening.” This “see what’s happening” stance is more liberal than the strict opposition many GOP members exhibit.
#2. The Time He Opposed the Iraq War
Although Trump vaguely agreed with the decision to invade Iraq, he now passionately disagrees with all the choices that led the U.S. into the conflict, and continues to disapprove of former President George W. Bush. At the February 13 Republican debate, Trump stated, “They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction; there were none, and they knew there were none.”
#1. The Time He Trashed Mitt Romney’s Campaign
Along with calling out the Bush administration at the presidential debate on February 13, Trump criticized former presidential hopeful Mitt Romney at the following Republican debate on February 25. “He ran a terrible campaign,” Trump said. “He was a terrible candidate.”