ABC News’ Rick Klein reports:
Donald Trump’s move in the direction of a presidential candidacy has provoked a sharp reaction from elements inside the Republican Party, with the real-estate magnate and reality-show star prompting growing concern from conservatives.
On ABC’s “Top Line” today, Chris Chocola, president of the fiscal conservative group Club for Growth, told us that it’s time for some clear thinking about a potential candidate whose positions aren’t that well-understood by Republicans.
“He’s a great showman. But I think we got to push back the curtain and look and see what’s behind it,” said Chocola, a former GOP congressman from Indiana. “And if you look, he’s not pro-growth, he’s not conservative.”
“He’s a rabid protectionist — wants to start a trade war with China. And so all these things I think should give us great concern and we just think if you want to engage in a candidacy, you have to engage in the debate of policy and ideas. And we think educated voters are good voters. And so before we get further into the show, we think people ought to understand what’s behind the curtain.”
Trump told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that Chocola is “not a very smart man” if he’s suggested his policies would harm the economy.
Chocola responded that he’s not bothered by such criticism.
“We are trying to get beyond the personalities and we’re trying to get to the policies,” he said. “If anybody believes his own press, it’s probably Donald Trump, and he gets a lot of it. And so we’re becoming increasingly of the mind that he is going to run. And we think people ought to know more about him and his policy positions before they start to make commitments and they start to make up their minds in who they want to support.”
Chocola also told us that the Club for Growth is considering getting involved in primaries against incumbent Republican senators in Utah, Maine, and his own home state of Indiana. He said of Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., that “it would be probably best if he would retire at this point.”
Watch the interview with Chris Chocola HERE.
We also featured an extended clip of Jonathan Karl’s latest “Subway Series” interview, with Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
Watch that portion of “Top Line” HERE.