Or Jeb Bush, or Ted Cruz, for that matter. Can’t deport everyone? Check. Can’t break up families? Check. Opposed to sanctuary cities? Check. Build a wall? Check. E-verify? Check. When challenged on the similarities, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway could only point to the fact that Marco Rubio worked with Democrats to reach essentially the same plan that Trump has seemingly adopted over the last few days on immigration reform.
And how does Trump plan to get his policies through Congress without doing the same? Via Twitchy:
Donald Trump campaign manager on immigration plan:
– No amnesty
– No sanctuary cities
– E-Verify for businesses https://t.co/eCG0zOgtce
— New Day (@NewDay) August 25, 2016
In the clip highlighted by CNN, New Day host Chris Cuomo refers to the “Conway effect” on Trump’s tone, and Conway herself insists that tone is all that’s changed. “Nothing has changed as far as the policies,” Conway insists, but Trump’s appearance on Hannity last night sounds like more than just a shift in rhetoric:
“No citizenship. Let me go a step further — they’ll pay back-taxes, they have to pay taxes, there’s no amnesty, as such, there’s no amnesty, but we work with them,” Trump told conservative commentator Sean Hannity.
To Republican voters who were drawn to Trump’s tough immigration policies, that probably sounds like a change from his previous calls to all undocumented immigrants living in the country. But Conway argued Trump isn’t abandoning any position, saying he “is not for amnesty.”
“What voters need to see is what Donald Trump is saying his immigration plan is,” she said.
Until the last week or so, they knew exactly what Trump’s plan was. Trump called for mass deportations, along with what some termed “touchback amnesty” — deportation followed by a quick re-entry for “the good ones,” as Trump himself once put it. Taking Trump’s words last night at face value, though, there is no difference between the “pay back taxes … work with them” position and the Gang of Eight bill, except for the fact that Rubio tried working with Chuck Schumer to pass exactly that policy.
Ted Cruz’ team now calls that the “Gang of Nine” bill, and offers up a heapin’ helping of I told you sos in the wake of the softening:
As Donald Trump soft-pedals his once-hard-line immigration rhetoric, supporters of his vanquished primary foe Ted Cruz have one message for Republican voters: We told you so. …
But Trump’s rhetorical contortions on immigration this week are giving Cruz supporters in and around his orbit more hope that anger over the RNC speech, and over his broader opposition to Trump, will fade. They are optimistic that the deeply conservative Cruz will emerge from November looking prescient in his warnings that Trump couldn’t be trusted to defend core GOP values, and say that Trump’s shifting on immigration language this week only proves Cruz’s point.
“It vindicates the speech, it vindicates what Ted Cruz warned would happen during the course of the campaign,” said Chris Wilson, the director of research, analytics and digital strategy on Cruz’s campaign and a top Cruz adviser who has always argued that the RNC speech would be remembered favorably. He went on to add, “I do think, yes, the immigration point is another data point that he was right, it’s another data point that leads people to understand Ted Cruz knew what he was talking about, he was making the right decision.”
Well, so did Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, for that matter. They repeatedly argued not just for the value of their policies but also that mass-deportation demands would be a disaster in a general election. If anything, Trump’s shift on immigration tends to vindicate them more than Cruz, who flirted with the mass-deportations schtick back in January in an attempt to marginalize Trump. More to the point, it’s also a realistic policy, one that has a prayer of actually getting through Congress, rather than the nonsensical mass-deportation position Trump held for his entire campaign until the last few days. In fact, the only difference left is tone.
Now, perhaps Conway and Trump can explain how they’ll get that policy through Congress without negotiating with Democrats — especially in the Senate, where they’ll likely have a majority. Marco Rubio will be particularly interested in that explanation.