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Trump, Who Has Criticized Reagan In The Past, Says He’s ‘Evolved’ On Issues Just Like Reagan

Trump's position on Reagan has also "evolved."

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At Thursday night's Republican debate in Cleveland, Donald Trump defended the liberal positions he has taken on issues in the past by pointing to Ronald Reagan as an example of another politician whose positions "evolved" over the years.

"I've evolved on many issues over the years," said Trump. "And you know who else has? Ronald Reagan evolved on many issues."

You know what else has evolved? Trump's position on Reagan.

In 1987, Trump spent almost $100,000 to run a full-page ad in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and the Washington Post criticizing U.S. foreign policy -- which, at the time, was Ronald Reagan's foreign policy.

"There's nothing wrong with America's Foreign Defense Policy that a little backbone can't cure," the ad declares. "The world is laughing at America's politicians as we protect ships we don't own, carrying oil we don't need, destined for allies who won't help."

Trump's ad argues that America should make its allies pay for the military protection it provides, in order to improve conditions domestically.

"'Tax' these wealthy nations, not America," suggests the tycoon. "End our huge deficits, reduce our taxes, and let America's economy grow unencumbered by the cost of defending those who can easily afford to pay us for the defense of their freedom."

In his book The Art of the Deal, published the same year, Trump wrote that Reagan "is so smooth and so effective a performer that he completely won over the American people. Only now, nearly seven years later, are people beginning to question whether there's anything beneath that smile."

By 2011, Trump had changed his tune, telling Fox News's Sean Hannity that he "loved his style" and "loved what he represented."

"I really liked him," said Trump. "You know, not only his policies, smart guy and so much smarter, you know, I always sort of have to laugh to myself when people try and criticize that level of intelligence. And I loved his style. I loved what he represented."

Ilan Ben-Meir is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Ilan Ben-Meir at ilan.ben-meir@buzzfeed.com.

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