– Donald Trump, the ultra-opinionated real estate mogul and reality TV host, was dismissive of failed presidential candidate Mitt Romney's efforts and wants his fellow Republicans to implore their leaders to take a much harder line with President Barack Obama.
"Please tell your leaders – and I'm talking about the Republican leaders – please start negotiating. Get tougher. You've got some cards," he said. "Tell your leaders: We love you. Get tough. Get smart."
The part-time resident of Palm Beach offered his two cents Thursday night to about 500 people at the county Republican Party's big annual fundraising dinner. Though he wasn't the keynote speaker, Trump received enthusiastic applause, was mobbed by people who wanted pictures with him, and former county Republican Chairman Sid Dinerstein told him he should have run for president last year.
Trump lamented his party's losing the 2012 presidential election. "We should have won. This should not have been a loss. This country's going to hell and we lost an election," he said.
Romney was a "very good man," but Trump described him as someone who "did not resonate. He didn't catch on." He was unimpressed by Romney's effort. "He tried – I think."
He was sharply critical of the way Republican congressional leaders handled the year-end negotiations over the so-called fiscal cliff that ended up in tax increases for the wealthiest Americans. If Republicans hung tough and the country had gone over the cliff, he said, "Obama would have come running to make a deal."
Trump said Republican toughness should extend to discussions of immigration legislation that could provide a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country. "I'm all for the heart. I love the heart. But every one of those 11 million people will be voting Democratic. I don't care what you do. Just remember that," he said.
The appearance, to introduce conservative radio personality and keynote speaker Laura Ingraham, was vintage Trump. During his eight and a half minutes, Trump said "I" or "I'm" at least 29 times.
Besides giving his political views, Trump talked about the exclusive Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, which he owns and served as the venue for the evening. Mar-a-Lago, Trump explained, "is one of the great places in this country."
Palm Beach County Republican Chairman Ira Sabin didn't have an estimate for what the party raised, but the dinner typically takes in around $100,000.
Sabin, who was elected party chairman in December, told attendees that they need to get energized about the 2014 campaign right now – or risk losing. As disappointing as last year's results were to Republicans, he said they need to "stop the whining about what happened and focus on what we must do."
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