As he powered through his rivals in the Republican primary, Donald Trump sold himself as the “tell-it-like-it-is” candidate, a brash truth-teller whose policy pronouncements wouldn’t be swayed by the polls.
“I’ve never wanted to learn the language of the insiders and I’ve never been politically correct,” he said recently. “But one thing I can promise you this: I will always tell you the truth.”
Yet again and again, Trump’s positions have swayed, as he has reversed his stances in the face of criticism and in front of different audiences.
His rival, Hillary Clinton, has also wavered over the course of her career, including reversing her support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.
But Trump’s pivots have often induced whiplash, with the nominee sometimes offering contradictory views within hours. On immigration, he seems to offer conflicting stances every day.
“The Trump campaign has been premised on a big lie,” charged Tim Miller, an anti-Trump Republican strategist. “And the big lie is that he says unpopular truths and tells people what he really thinks, when the truth is he’s just an extreme version of a pandering politician. He tells people what he thinks they want to hear.”
Here are some of the topics on which Trump has wavered:
Trump had vowed during the GOP primary to deport all of the estimated 11 million people living in the country illegally with the help of a “deportation force.”
But in recent days, he has suggested he might be “softening.”
At a Fox town hall that aired Wednesday night, Trump suggested he might be open to allowing at least some immigrants in the country illegally to stay, as long as they pay taxes.
But by Thursday, he was ruling out any kind of legal status — “unless they leave the country and come back,” he told CNN.
And his new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, now describes his position on the issue as: “To be determined.”
In December, Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” It was a stunning proposal from a presidential candidate: a religion-based prohibition criticized as both unfeasible and un-American.
But following the Orlando night club shooting in June, Trump appeared to introduce a new standard: “When I am elected, I will suspend immigration from areas of the world where there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies, until we fully understand how to end these threats,” he said.
Trump’s aides suggested the new standard has replaced the old. But Trump himself described it as an “expansion.”
“People were so upset when I used the word Muslim. ‘Oh, you can’t use the word Muslim,’” he told NBC last month.
The original position remains posted on his campaign website.
Trump has taken numerous positions when it comes to the minimum wage. In a November GOP debate, Trump said wages were “too high” and warned that raising them higher would put the U.S. at a competitive disadvantage. “I hate to say it, but we have to leave it the way it is,” he said.
By May, Trump was suggesting that he might be open to a higher minimum wage, telling CNN that he’s “very different from most Republicans.”
“I mean you have to have something that you can live on,” he said.
By July, Trump had fully embraced the idea, telling Fox News Channel that he would support raising the federal minimum wage to $10 an hour. Still, he stressed that he would like the decision to remain with the states.
And Clinton has always supported efforts to boost the minimum wage, but has shifted over time on what that wage level should be.
Trump was speaking at a town hall taping when he was asked whether women should be punished for having an abortion if the procedure were once again made illegal.
“There has to be some form of punishment,” Trump said.
Before the show had even aired, Trump’s campaign was pushing back with its first clarification.
“This issue is unclear and should be put back into the states for determination. Like Ronald Reagan, I am pro- life with exceptions, which I have outlined numerous times,” Trump said in a statement.
About an hour later, the campaign offered a new statement, saying the doctor, not the patient should be punished, putting him in line with anti-abortion activists.
“If Congress were to pass legislation making abortion illegal and the federal courts upheld this legislation, or any state were permitted to ban abortion under state and federal law, the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman,” it read.
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