After a “dizzying” week of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump taking several different stances on his own immigration policy, media figures criticized Trump for the “continual confusion” surrounding the details of his immigration plan.
Trump Changes Immigration Stance Several Times In One Week
Trump Repeatedly Reversed Stances On His Own Immigration Policy Over The Past Week. The Huffington Post reported on August 27 how Trump repeatedly changed his stance on his immigration policy over the past week:
Donald Trump’s experiment with “softening” his immigration policy came to a dramatic end Saturday in a fairgrounds livestock pavilion, with the Republican presidential nominee promising deportations within an hour of his inauguration.
“We are going to rid of the criminals, and it’s going to happen within one hour after I take office,” he said. “We will move justly, but we will move fast. Believe me.”
Trump has made the forcible deportation of the 11 million people in the country without documentation a cornerstone of his presidential campaign from its start last year. It made him a favorite among a segment of the Republican base, and helped him win the nomination over a dozen Republican senators and governors.
Then, last week, Trump explained in an appearance on Fox News that “thousands and thousands” of people he had met with on the issue had urged him not to deport undocumented immigrants who have been in the country for years and have no criminal record, but rather stable jobs and families. That new tack brought an immediate backlash from some of his hardcore supporters – including author Ann Coulter – for breaking his promise, as well as “I told you so” claims from mainstream GOP critics who had long predicted his eventual flip.
Trump backtracked on his new position later in the week – including in a CNN interview, where he claimed the modification was not a “softening” but actually “a hardening.” The Saturday remarks appear to complete the process, with Trump suggesting that undocumented immigrants commit a significant percentage of the country’s crimes and making zero mention of finding some way for those who have not committed any crimes to stay. [The Huffington Post, 8/27/16]
Sunday Show Hosts And Guests Highlight How Trump Held “More Immigration Positions Than The Kamasutra”
CNN’s Ana Navarro: “We Have Seen [Trump] Hold More Immigration Positions Than The Kamasutra, And It’s All Been In One Week.” CNN political commentator Ana Navarro said “it’s been so hard to keep up with” all of Trump’s immigration shifts, because he has “more immigration positions than the Kamasutra, and it’s all been in one week.” Navarro also criticized Trump for making immigration the “pillar of his campaign from day one, and here we are, two months out, and he still has no policy.” From the August 28 edition of ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos:
ANA NAVARRO: I think this week has been a debacle for Donald Trump. We have seen him hold more immigration positions than the Kamasutra, and it's all been in one week. It's been so hard to keep up with. Different people hear different things because he has been saying so many different things. I don't think this works, because look, you can change the words a person says. You can change the words a person reads off a teleprompter. You can't change a person's heart. Hispanics are not going to --
ALEX CASTELLANOS: I think you're going too far there, Ana.
NAVARRO: -- forget Judge Curiel. African Americans are not going to forget that he started the birther movement. I don't think Jewish folks forget the anti-Semitic ad against Hillary Clinton. The problem that Donald Trump has is that most humans have a memory. And we're not going to forget it within one week. The other problem he has is that he has based his campaign on immigration, it's been a pillar of his campaign from day one, and here we are, two months out, and he still has no policy. [ABC, This Week with George Stephanopoulos, 8/28/16]
Fox News' Karl Rove: “There’s Continual Confusion About Where [Trump] Is On This Issue.” Fox News contributor Karl Rove highlighted the “continual confusion” surrounding Trump’s immigration plan, questioning whether he wants to deport undocumented immigrants or provide a path to legal status. Rove went on to advise the candidate that he would be better off forming an opinion, “clarifying it, and sticking with it.” From the August 28 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.’s, Fox News Sunday:
CHRIS WALLACE (HOST): Is [Trump] opening the door to possibly softening on the idea of deporting all 11 million people in this country illegally, is that good politics?
KARL ROVE: Well it’s good general election politics, but also this is not the first time he did it. There’s continual confusion about where he is on this issue. But I remind you, last year he said I’m going to build a wall, and then he said I’m going to build a wall and we’re going to put a big beautiful door in it so that they can come back, leaving the impression that all you had to do is do what’s called touch back. This is Senator Kay Hutchison’s proposal in 2006 and 7. You know, if you’re here illegally you gotta go back and touch back. So this is not the first time he’s brought this up but look, we got confusion. Is he -- does he want to deport people or not? Does he want to have a touch back or not? And does he support some form of legal status for these individuals? My suggestion is that he is better off getting a position, clarifying it, and sticking with it. I would prefer, I think, for the general election, that “soften,” that is to say, return to his position of last fall to say people who have been here for a long time, kept their nose clean, raised their families, paid their taxes, are employed, they have some path to a legal status. It’ll be, they’ll contrast it with Jeb Bush, and say that sounds sort of like where Jeb Bush was, but frankly, that’s where he sort of was last year and was again there temporarily this week. [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 8/28/16]
NBC’s Chuck Todd Highlights Trump’s “Ham-Handed Efforts To Find A Middle Ground” On His Immigration Policy. NBC host Chuck Todd noted, “In five days, [Trump took] a dizzying number of positions on immigration.” Todd continued, “As the week went on, his positions multiplied,” which led to “confusion,” and asked, “Was he for [deportations] before he was against it, or is it a little bit of both?” From the August 28 edition of NBC’ Meet the Press:
CHUCK TODD (HOST): But we begin with Donald Trump's ham-handed efforts to find a middle ground on deportation. Was he for it before he was against it, or is it a little bit of both? In Iowa yesterday, Trump tried to explain again.
DONALD TRUMP: All the media wants to talk about is the 11 million people.
TODD: After a week where an attempt to moderate on immigration turned into a muddle.
TRUMP: There certainly can be a softening because we're not looking to hurt people.
TRUMP: I’ve had people say it's a hardening.
TODD: In five days, a dizzying number of positions on immigration. Monday, Trump appeared to defend President Obama's policy.
TODD: As the week went on, his positions multiplied.
TODD: Trump's latest confusion may be an attempt to soften his image without alienating long-time supporters. [NBC, Meet the Press, 8/28/16]
The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg: “This Whole Week Has Been This Vertigo-Inducing Kind Of Rhetorical Spinning.” The Atlantic national correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg noted that “it’s very hard to keep up” with Trump’s “rhetorical and possibly policy shifts on immigration,” saying, “this whole week has been this vertigo-inducing kind of rhetorical spinning, trying to please all camps.” From the August 28 edition of CBS’ Face the Nation:
JEFFREY GOLDBERG: I was just thinking about Ed [O’Keefe’s] job [as a Washington Post reporter covering Donald Trump]. Ed has one of the harder jobs in journalism right now because he has to cover moment to moment Donald Trump's rhetorical and possible policy shifts on immigration. It's very hard to keep up. It really is. Obviously he was trying to pivot away from a very, very hard position. He understands that he has a floor, and he understands that he has a ceiling. The floor -- his core supporters want to hear that tough, tough rhetoric but he knows that he's not punching through a ceiling unless he softens. And this whole week has been this vertigo-inducing kind of rhetorical spinning, trying to please all camps. And what he's doing is he’s risking alienating the base without actually punching through the ceiling convincing people that he's softening as the word goes. [CBS, Face the Nation, 8/28/16]
On CNN, Jorge Ramos Says Trump Is “Backtracking On His Flip Flop.” On CNN’s Reliable Sources, host Brian Stelter asked Univision anchor Jorge Ramos what he thoughtabout Trump’s “shifting” immigration position. Ramos suggested that Trump’s “flip flop” on immigration shows that the candidate is in “panic mode with Latinos,” and has “realized too late” that he “can’t win … without Latinos.” Ramos also opined that while Trump wants to take his previous positionback, “the damage has been done already.” From the August 28 edition of CNN’s Reliable Sources:
BRIAN STELTER (HOST): Jorge, you have been outspoken about this issue. What's your answer to Trump's shifting position?
JORGE RAMOS: Who knows what he's thinking about the deportation, possibly leaning toward the deportation force, he's backtracking on his flip-flop. I honestly think that Donald Trump is in panic mode with Latinos, I think he realized too late, Brian, that he cannot win the White House without Latinos, and I have seen the latest polls, Univision says that he might get 19 percent of the Latino vote, and Mitt Romney, with 27 percent, lost the election. So I think he's realizing that he can't win Nevada, Colorado, Florida, without Latinos. You know, almost a year ago he expelled me from a press conference after I told him that he couldn't deport 11 million people. Now, just think about it, it's the largest mass deportation in U.S. history. Maybe some people are telling him that it is impossible. It is not only impossible, it would be inhumane. And now he wants to take that back, well I think the damage has been done already. [CNN, Reliable Sources, 8/28/16]