The U.S. economy is "terrible" and the White House is lying about it, according to Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump.
In a collegial interview with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on Friday, Trump told the one-time vice presidential candidate that "we have to make a lot of improvement," claiming "the White House is not truthful" about the state of the country's economy.
"Our current tax code is a joke," Palin said. What would Trump do about it? Simplify it, of course, and reduce taxes. How? Palin didn't ask and Trump certainly didn't offer up any solutions -- a recurring theme of Trump's candidacy, according to some critics.
He did say, however, that there are too many "hedge fund guys making a fortune" and not paying their fair share in taxes to the federal government -- a position unlikely to win the favor of small-government conservatives like GOP rivals Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush, whom Palin also interviewed Friday on her show "On Point with Sarah Palin."
The right-wing love-fest signaled that Palin’s brand of unfiltered, unapologetic conservatism is again taking hold of the Republican Party, driven in part by Trump’s own brash style and a sweeping dissatisfaction with Washington across America.
Framing himself as a champion of working Americans, the billionaire real estate mogul said, "The country was based on the middle class … and they are being treated horribly."
The same goes for veterans, who Trump said "have been treated terribly."
"If I win … believe me, the vets will be taken care of."
Asked about his heated interaction with Univision's Jorge Ramos at a press event earlier in the week -- something Palin called a "necessary confrontation" -- Trump said, "[Ramos] was screaming and ranting and raving," but defended his own decorum, saying, "I never raised my voice or anything."
Palin's interviews with Cruz and Bush covered topics ranging from the recent controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood -- something Cruz called "an ongoing nationwide criminal enterprise" -- to Hillary Clinton's email server scandal and the proposed Iran nuclear deal, which Cruz called "profoundly dangerous to our country."
Cruz credited Palin, whose endorsement helped catapult him to an insurgent Senate primary win in 2010, with launching him on the path to the presidency, and said he was “grateful" for her "friendship" and "fearless stance."
Contrasting Bush with Clinton (whom Palin casually referred to as a "Socialist"), Palin said Bush's forthcoming e-book -- in which he promises to reveal some of the email correspondence from his time as governor of Florida -- is a sign of his transparency.
"To get [Clinton's] emails, you need a subpoena," Bush said.