Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump held out the possibility on Tuesday of a softening of his hardline position on illegal immigration, a move that could help move him to the political center but hurt him with his most ardent supporters.
In an immigration town hall event with Fox News anchor Sean Hannity, Trump was asked whether he would be willing to change U.S. law to accommodate those illegal immigrants who have been contributing to American society, obeyed laws and have children.
“There certainly can be a softening because we’re not looking to hurt people,” Trump replied, insisting there were some “great people” among the immigrant population.
It was the latest example of Trump appearing to waver on his long-held stance he would deport all illegal immigrants back to their home countries. His new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, told CNN on Sunday that Trump’s proposed “deportation force” for the 11 million people in the United States illegally was “to be determined.”
A move by Trump to modify his stance on immigration could help him attract more support among moderate voters in his uphill drive to win the Nov. 8 election.
The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll showed Democrat Hillary Clinton expanding her lead over Trump to 12 points among likely voters, with 45 percent support to 33 percent for Trump.
But a change in Trump’s position could prove to be dispiriting to some of his strongest supporters. Trump defeated 16 rivals for the Republican presidential nomination and one factor that helped him was being the most hardline candidate on immigration.
“Why would anyone be surprised that Trump has pivoted to becoming the ‘amnesty’ candidate?” said Republican strategist Rick Tyler, a former spokesman for U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a conservative. “When you have no governing philosophy, pivots are par for the course. Guess we won’t need Mexico to build that wall.”
At an Austin rally on Tuesday night attended by thousands who packed a rodeo arena, some were shouting: “Build the wall” long before Trump even showed up, a reference to the New York businessman’s oft-stated promise to build a wall along the U.S. with Mexico and make Mexico pay for it.
Some of those attending the event, however, liked that Trump might be offering a more expansive view on immigration.
“I think he’s saying the law needs to be looked at,” said Barbara Thomas, a Trump supporter from the Austin area. “I think it would be very hard for all of them to be deported. I think the system needs to be fixed. It has some problems.”
Immigration politics have long divided American voters. Then-President George W. Bush, a Republican, fought for changes to U.S. immigration laws in 2007 but the effort fizzled in the U.S. Congress. Democratic President Barack Obama’s attempts have failed to bear fruit amid partisan gridlock.
Trump insisted in the Hannity appearance he would “follow the law.”
His vice presidential running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, said in a CBS News interview that Trump would be “tough but fair” in dealing with illegal immigrants.
“People who have run afoul of the law gotta leave immediately,” Pence said. When pressed, he said the details would need to be worked out with Congress.
(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Peter Cooney)
Trump campaign in danger of having lawsuits thrown out over unpaid legal bills: report
According to a report from Politico, Donald Trump's cash-strapped campaign is frantically attempting to collect settlements in legal disputes because it needs the money to fund other lawsuits that are in danger of being dismissed.
Noting that the campaign of the embattled president is pressing Omarosa Manigault Newman to make a delinquent $52,000 payment for writing an unauthorized book about White House doings, the report explains the money is desperately needed.
‘Women didn’t like that’: Fox News host grills GOP chairwoman after Trump interrupts ‘145 times’ at debate
Fox News host Sandra Smith pressed Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel on Thursday over the idea that President Donald Trump could be punished with a "mute button" after he repeatedly interrupted Democratic candidate Joe Biden at Tuesday's presidential debate.
During an interview on Fox News, Smith noted that the Commission on Presidential Debates is considering changing the rules due to the constant interruptions at the first debate between Biden and Trump.
"At any point when you were watching the debate, did you wish that perhaps President Trump didn't jump in there as much as he did?" Smith wondered.
Rod Rosenstein secretly crippled the Mueller investigation: report
According to a report from the New York Times, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had a hand in limiting the scope of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into ties between Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and the Russians by secretly curtailing an FBI counterintelligence probe.
The report from Michael Schmidt of the Times begins by stating, "The Justice Department secretly took steps in 2017 to narrow the investigation into Russian election interference and any links to the Trump campaign, according to former law enforcement officials," before adding, "But law enforcement officials never fully investigated Mr. Trump’s own relationship with Russia, even though some career F.B.I. counterintelligence investigators thought his ties posed such a national security threat that they took the extraordinary step of opening an inquiry into them."