Donald Trump made a surprise appearance at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington Wednesday night to pay tribute to his vice president, Mike Pence. Trump showed up unannounced to the Vice President’s Dinner, a Republican fundraiser held two days before the inauguration, to share some unscripted thoughts about Pence, the campaign, and the next four years.
The media was barred from the fundraiser, but audio of Trump’s comments leaked to the press shortly after the dinner concluded.
“They all liked Mike,” Trump said of Republican donors and insiders. “They were a little bit concerned with me.”
Trump said that choosing Pence to be his running mate was one of the best decisions he made in the campaign, though he jabbed his vice president by reminding him of his original endorsement of Sen. Ted Cruz.
“The fact that every donor he had was in favor of” Cruz, Trump said sarcastically, surely played no part in the Indiana governor’s decision to endorse him.
According to The New York Times, Trump made a few off-the-cuff comments about Republicans who were once his adversaries:
Mr. Trump also took aim at Mr. Cruz (a “smart guy, he was a little late to the plate, but that’s O.K.”); Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a rival in the primary (“he can be nasty, that Scott Walker”); members of the “Never Trump” movement (“they’re really right now on a respirator; they’re pretty much gone”); and the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson (he mocked him for being late to donate promised money to outside groups supporting his candidacy).
Trump also reiterated his desire to fix the immigration system, telling the gathered donors that it needed to “be merit-based” to some degree.
“We’re working on the border,” Trump said. “We want people to come into our country, but we want them to come in legally. We want people to come into our country who are going to love us and respect us.”
The great thing about Trump is that there doesn’t appear to be any significant difference between the Trump you get behind closed doors and the Trump you get in front of a microphone. What you see is what you get. And whether you love him or hate him, it will be enormously refreshing to have a president who doesn’t hide his true feelings behind a mountain of political doublespeak.