Real estate and reality television mogul Donald Trump, who passed on a presidential run, did not miss an opportunity to criticize members of his own party on Friday night.
Trump laced into House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., for suggesting that emergency aid for victims of the recent tornado that struck Joplin, Mo. be contingent on cuts in government spending.
“Representative Cantor -- who I like -- said we don’t want to give money to the tornado victims,” Trump said in a speech to a conference of social conservatives in Washington, DC, “and yet in Afghanistan we’re spending $10 billion a month but we don’t want to help the people that get devastated by tornados -- wiped out, killed, maimed, injured.”
Trump complained, as he has before, that the United States was not getting its fair share from oil-rich countries and other places where the American military has intervened.
“We don’t have money for them,” Trump said of those affected by recent natural disasters across the country, “but we’re spending $10 billion a month in Afghanistan, we’re spending billions and dollars in Iraq where they have the second largest oil fields in the world. We’re spending billions and billions of dollars and we can’t help people that got flooded with the Mississippi that got hit horribly by the tornadoes?”
He was referring to comments Cantor made in the wake of the Joplin tornado that “if there is support for a supplemental, it would be accompanied by support for having pay-fors to that supplemental.” (In other words, Cantor was signaling that spending cuts were necessary to pay for disaster relief.)
Trump, who has recently been floating the idea of running as an independent candidate for president, told reporters, “I think the Republican Party’s not doing a very good job right now.” He has been saying that he will keep a close eye on the current crop of GOP candidates before making a decision on whether he will mount a challenge from outside the party.
Trump bowed out of the 2012 contest on May 16, saying that if he had run, “I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election.”
Instead of jumping into the Republican nominating contest, Trump opted to renew his contract with NBC for another season of his hit show, “The Celebrity Apprentice.” Sources close to Trump said the network offered him a lucrative deal to stick around for another year.
In his remarks to the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s annual gathering, Trump responded to Friday’s jobs report that showed the country’s unemployment rate rose last month from 9 percent to 9.1 percent.
“The jobs report today was a total disaster and it’s a problem -- it’s a real problem,” Trump said. “We need to create a wealthy country again or we’re going down the tubes.”
Since his no-go announcement last month, Trump has found ways to keep himself in the spotlight. Earlier this week he met with Sarah Palin (at her request) in his 30,000-square foot New York apartment. Later they shared a pizza dinner at a restaurant near Times Square.
The visit gained him a fresh round of national media attention, which he has been using it to talk up the possibility of an independent run. When asked by reporters whether he was rethinking his decision not to run in the GOP primary, Trump would only say that he “loved the response from the crowd” Friday night in Washington. "That’s a great response.”