By Ashley Killough, CNN
(CNN) — Accepting the Sarasota GOP “Statesman of the Year” award Sunday night, real estate titan Donald Trump had some fighting words for his Republican friends this fall–and said them without a hint of irony.
“I hope they are tough as hell and mean as hell and they fight fire with fire. And if they do–and if they’re smart because it’s all about being smart–we’re going to have a great president of the United States,” Trump said at the event.
The multimillionaire blasted President Barack Obama’s campaign, labeling them flat out “bad people” because of “the kind of things they do and the kind of things they say.”
“These people are vicious,” he said, referring to some of the campaign’s negative attacks, as well as a pro-Obama super PAC ad that appeared to blame Romney for the loss of a steelworker’s health benefits and the eventual cancer death of his wife.
Trump also posited his belief-perhaps introspectively–that successful people have trouble running for office because of their own success.
“They’ve been tough. They’ve been competitive. They work. They built their business,” Trump said. “And honestly, they have left people in their wake, and they’ve made enemies.”
Trump, who flirted with a presidential bid last year, argued that successful business people are the kind of candidates needed for political office, but their “enemies” eventually become roadblocks in their campaigns.
“They can’t really go out there. They can’t put it together because all of those people that they beat consistently over a lifetime…all of those people come back to haunt him,” he said.
He continued: “And I see it happening with Mitt. Mitt was a successful man, he did a great job.”
Trump was referring to Romney’s tenure as the co-founder and CEO of the private equity firm Bain Capital. Democrats have consistently used Romney’s corporate background as major grounds for attack, arguing the candidate spent years buying out small firms and laying off thousands of workers for profit.
Romney, however, says he does not apologize for his success and invokes his business experience as a key calling card on the campaign trail.
Trump was scheduled to play a “surprise” role on the first day of the GOP convention in Tampa, Florida, but Monday’s calendar was scrapped due to weather conditions related to Tropical Storm Isaac. When convention organizers released a new schedule Sunday, Trump’s name was nowhere to be found on the list.
The schedule change may have some Republicans breathing a little easy, especially after Romney drew criticism for making a birth certificate joke in Michigan on Friday–echoing refrains from Trump, the “birther” movement’s biggest name.
However, a convention official suggested Monday at a press conference that Trump may still “show up” at some point this week.