At the Republican presidential debate on Thursday evening, Donald Trump was asked to explain why he changed his opinion on abortion (one of the past liberal positions The Donald has held):
In his answer, The Donald said Ronald Reagan also changed his mind on issues, and shared a personal story to explain his shift to become a pro-life conservative.
Here's the transcript of that exchange (emphasis mine):
KELLY: Mr. Trump, in 1999, you said you were, quote, "very pro- choice." Even supporting partial-birth abortion. You favored an assault weapons ban as well. In 2004, you said in most cases you identified as a Democrat. Even in this campaign, your critics say you often sound more like a Democrat than a Republican, calling several of your opponents on the stage things like clowns and puppets. When did you actually become a Republican?
TRUMP: I don't think they like me very much. I'll tell you what. I've evolved on many issues over the years. And you know who else has? Is Ronald Reagan evolved on many issues.
And I am pro-life. And if you look at the question, I was in business. They asked me a question as to pro-life or choice. And I said if you let it run, that I hate the concept of abortion. I hate the concept of abortion. And then since then, I've very much evolved.
And what happened is friends of mine years ago were going to have a child, and it was going to be aborted. And it wasn't aborted. And that child today is a total superstar, a great, great child. And I saw that. And I saw other instances.
And I am very, very proud to say that I am pro-life.
As far as being a Republican is concerned, I come from a place, New York City, which is virtually, I mean, it is almost exclusively Democrat. And I have really started to see some of the negatives -- as an example, and I have a lot of liking for this man, but the last number of months of his brother's administration were a catastrophe. And unfortunately, those few months gave us President Obama. And you can't be happy about that.
This may sound familiar -- it's not that different from an explanation Mitt Romney gave for his pro-life conversion.
Romney was notably pro-choice until around 2005 (when he started being considered a possible Republican presidential candidate) and repeatedly and frequently would cite Reagan in explaining his shift.
From a 2011 Republican debate (emphasis mine):
ROMNEY: With regards to abortion, I changed my mind. With regards to abortion, I had the experience of coming in to office, running for governor, saying, you know, I'm going to keep the laws as they exist in the state. And they were pro-choice laws, so effectively I was pro-choice.
Then I had a bill come to my desk that didn't just keep the laws as they were, but would have created new embryos for the purpose of destroying them. I studied it in some depth and concluded I simply could not sign on to take human life. I vetoed that bill.
I went to the -- to the Boston Globe. I described for them why I am pro-life. Every decision I took as governor was taken on the side of life. I am firmly pro-life.
I've learned over time, like Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush and others, my experience in life over, what, 19 -- 17, 18, 19 years has told me that sometimes I was wrong. Where I was wrong, I've tried to correct myself.