Billionaire businessman Donald Trump has nothing but praise for the tea party.
“I am a Republican, but I believe strongly in the tea party — and I love the people of the tea party,” Trump told WPTV-News Channel 5 on Thursday during the Palm Beach County Republican Lincoln Day Dinner. “I love many of the things they represent — and you know what? They love me.”
Hundreds of national and local GOP officials and supporters attended the dinner at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach. The annual event comes as the Republican Party grapples with remaking itself and broadening its base after the drubbing it took in the 2012 presidential election.
And Trump had plenty of advice on how the GOP should move forward.
On immigration reform, for instance, Trump told WPTV-Channel 5: “Something has to happen, but the Republicans are going to have to be very careful. Look, we can't give away our great country.”
Several plans for comprehensive immigration reform have been put forth in recent weeks, including one by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and another by the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators, which also includes Rubio. The proposals have been attacked as de facto amnesty programs.
Turning to the nation’s economy and its $16.4 trillion debt, Trump said: “We will soon have over $17 trillion in debt, a number no one ever dreamed possible. We are losing our economic power.
“China will soon be the biggest economic engine in the world,” the real-estate mogul told WPTV. “We won't be.”
Trump ruled out the idea of running for president via a third party. “No, I wouldn't head it up, but the Republicans are going to have to get very smart or there is going to be a third party.”
And, on the longstanding birther issue with President Barack Obama, Trump was the most vocal to WPTV.
During the campaign, he offered $5 million to the charity of the president’s choice if he released his college transcripts. Obama dismissed the challenge.
As such, would Trump ever drop the matter?
“No, I'm not. I don't do that at all. I offered millions and millions of dollars to show some record,” he told WPTV. “He didn't show the records.
“I would certainly not put that to bed — and neither would about 50 percent of our people.”
© 2016 Newsmax. All rights reserved.