- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 24, 2016

GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Sunday dismissed critics who say he is not a true conservative, arguing that he has “evolved” on issues like another famous Republican — Ronald Reagan.

To anyone who would say that he has changed his positions over time, Mr. Trump said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he just “evoke[s] the name Ronald Reagan.”

“Ronald Reagan was a fairly liberal Democrat, and he evolved over years and he became more and more conservative,” the billionaire real estate mogul said. “And he was not a very conservative person, but he was pretty conservative. And he ended up being a great president.”

Mr. Trump said that he has evolved on issues as well, and argued that “as you grow older, you see things, and you watch things, and you study things,” and that they caused him to change his mind on issues.

He said he defines a conservative as someone who doesn’t want to take “overly risks.”

“In terms of government I’m talking about, a person that wants to conserve, a person that wants to, in a financial sense, balance budgets, a person that feels strongly about the military,” he said. “And I have always felt very, very strongly about the military.”

He defended his anti-Iraq war views, arguing that his rivals for the nomination were “all for the war in Iraq.”

“Look what’s that has got us. We spent $2 trillion. We lost thousands of lives. We have nothing,” he said. “We’re now handing Iraq over, just handing it over to Iran. Iran is going to take over Iraq. And I said that was going to happen. I said that years ago, 2003, 2004, that Iran will take over Iraq with the largest oil reserves in the world.”

“And that’s not a conservative position, when I was saying, ‘Don’t go into Iraq.’ I’m a very militaristic person,” Mr. Trump said. “I’m very much into the military, and will build our military bigger, better, stronger than ever before.”

• Anjali Shastry can be reached at ashastry@washingtontimes.com.

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