Trump expresses affection for Reid as he seeks to soothe conservatives

Real estate mogul Donald Trump expressed some measure of affection for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), while seeking to explain contributions to the top Senate Democrat.

Trump, who's mulling a run for the Republican presidential nomination next year, said his contributions to Reid, as well as other Democrats over the years, are attributable to his business practices and not to politics.

"Harry Reid was always very nice, and he was always very nice to me," Trump said in an interview with the Des Moines Register published Thursday. "He asked me for a contribution, a couple of friends of mine that are out there, very good friends of mine that are big developers out there asked me to contribute, and again, I was in the world of business, and I made a contribution to him.”

Trump's made a play for the Republican nomination by offering no-holds-barred criticism of Obama and the Democratic president's policies. And to a degree, it's succeeded; polls show Trump at or near the top of the pack of the Republican primary field.

But conservatives have their suspicions. The fiscally conservative Club for Growth has gone on the attack this week against Trump, calling him a "liberal" and dredging up Trump's past support of the bailouts for GM and Chrysler and also his occasional use of eminent domain to advance his real estate business.

Trump's sought elsewhere to soothe cynicism toward his vocal conservatism as of late. He's acknowledged evolving in his position on abortion-rights, to the point now where he says he opposes abortion-rights.

The host of NBC's "The Apprentice" has also donated to plenty of Democrats in the past, which does little to soothe conservatives he's hoping to win over in a Republican presidential primary.

Trump, again, attributed the donations to business and the fact that New York, where he headquarters his empire, is dominated politically by Democrats.

"I’m a very big businessman. I deal with politicians all over the world. And New York is almost exclusively Democratic," Trump said. "So I do contribute to Democrats, and I think that’s a positive ... I have a lot of good relationships with Democrats, and it’s time the two parties get together and get this country’s problems solved instead of always fighting and fighting and nothing ever gets done."