- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Businessman and 2016 GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, who is taking criticism from some conservatives on issues like Planned Parenthood and single-payer health care, said former President Ronald Reagan was once a “Democrat with a liberal bent” who later became a great conservative.

“It’s sort of easy to explain — now one of the things I always start with - Ronald Reagan was a Democrat, and he was sort of liberal,” Mr. Trump said in an interview that aired Tuesday evening on Fox News’ “Hannity” program. “And I knew him. I didn’t know him then, quite, but I knew him. And I knew him well. He liked me, I liked him. He was like this great guy.”

“And he was a Democrat with a liberal bent, and he became a great conservative, in my opinion,” he said. “And a great president and a great leader. He had something very special. But if you think of it, he was a little less conservative, actually, than people think.”

“He had a great heart, and I have a great heart,” Mr. Trump said. “That’s why I’m talking about when we mentioned Planned Parenthood, there are some positives, etcetera, etcetera — we’ve got to take care of our women, we’ve got to take care of our people.”

Amid the debate on Capitol Hill over defunding Planned Parenthood, Mr. Trump has gotten some pushback from conservatives for an interview with CNN Tuesday in which he said he would look at the “good aspects” of the group.

“But if you look at some of the things I said at the time, that was many, many years ago,” he said. “I wouldn’t have minded taking a piece of my wealth and paying off the national debt, OK? I’ll be honest with you. Now we can’t do it; it’s so humongous. At that time, we could have paid off the entire national debt and we could have started the game all even.”

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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