Trump hammers Romney's 'crazy' immigration suggestion
The now-infamous 'self-deportation' policy proposal from Mitt Romney was "crazy" and "maniacal," real estate magnate Donald Trump said in an interview published online Tuesday.
The former Romney backer said the suggestion, made during a GOP primary debate in January, made it seem like the Republican Party was hostile and anti-immigrant.
"He had a crazy policy of self deportation which was maniacal," Trump said in the interview with the conservative website NewsMax. "It sounded as bad as it was, and he lost all of the Latino vote."
Romney's suggestion involved making economic conditions so difficult for undocumented workers that they choose to leave the country to find better opportunities. That stance was derided both by Democrats and his Republican rivals.
The 2012 GOP nominee often sought to balance his positions in ways that appealed both to Hispanic voters and the base of the Republican Party. In December, he vowed to veto the DREAM Act if he became president, saying instead he would support a path to residency - not citizenship - for undocumented immigrants who served in the military, but not other DREAM Act proposals.
Later, Romney gave a more detailed version of his stance, telling supporters at a fund-raiser in Florida that Republicans needed to offer their own version of the DREAM Act.
In the November 6 election, 27% of Latinos cast ballots for Romney, compared to 31% who voted for Sen. John McCain in 2008 and 44% who supported George W. Bush in 2004, according to exit polls. Seventy-one percent of Latinos voted for President Barack Obama in 2012.
In the interview Tuesday, Trump said Obama and Democrats were still without a clear immigration policy, but had adopted a friendlier tone in discussing immigration issues.
"The Democrats didn't have a policy for dealing with illegal immigrants, but what they did have going for them is they weren't mean-spirited about it," Trump said. "They didn't know what the policy was, but what they were is they were kind."
He also said Republicans had yet to develop clear proposals that "take care of this incredible problem that we have with respect to immigration, with respect to people wanting to be wonderful productive citizens of this country."
The real estate developer and reality television show host was a leading voice of the "birther" movement during the campaign, which questions Obama's birthplace and his eligibility to be president. After the election was called for Obama, he urged his sizable Twitter following to "march on Washington and stop this travesty."
"Fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice," he also wrote, claiming the country was now in "serious and unprecedented trouble...like never before." Trump has since deleted the revolution missive.
Trump himself was slated to moderate a GOP presidential primary debate with NewsMax in December, but pulled out after only two candidates - former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum - agreed to participate. He flirted with a run for the White House, vowing to put pressure on Obama to release his birth certificate, but said in May he was going to eschew a run to remain a businessman.