Trump on shutting the borders after Brussels: "I didn't say shut it down"

Via Ace, Fox News asked him this morning about the attack and he said, “I would close up our borders to people until we figure out what’s going on.” That’s right in line with what he said last year about temporarily banning Muslims from entering the U.S., replete with the weird “until we figure out what’s going on” phrasing. No more Muslims, at least for awhile.

Then, within the span of about two hours, he went on CBS and said this:

“I would be extremely careful about people from the Middle East coming into our country,” he said on “CBS This Morning.” “We should be vigilant at our borders.”

When pressed for specifics, Trump said he would want “good documentation” from travelers…

Trump said his main focus is on better immigration surveillance, not a total shutdown.

“I didn’t say shut it down,” he said. “I said you have to be very careful. We have to be very, very strong and vigilant at the borders. We have to be tough.

Click the image below and start at 5:00 or so for the exchange with CBS’s anchors. They call him out specifically on his flip-flop: Didn’t he already say, literally this very morning, that the borders should be closed? No no no, says Trump. You misunderstood. I said they should be closed to people without documentation, especially from radicalized countries like Syria. That’s wildly different from the total moratorium on Muslim visitors that Trump fans seem to like so much, but okay. The anchors come back with a good follow-up, though. How does a ban on Muslims without documentation help you to keep out jihadis who do have documentation? A lot of these degenerates are European by birth, including Salah Abdeslam, the ISIS operative responsible for the Paris attacks who was arrested a few days ago in Belgium. They’ve got their papers. It’s easy to say “no Syrians allowed” but it’s hard to close the borders to citizens of friendly EU nations purely on suspicion of their religion. That was Trump’s chance to say, “Well, that’s why we need a ban on all Muslims for awhile,” which would be inconsistent with what he just said about documentation but oh well. Instead he starts talking about assimilation not working, which means … yes to the ban? No ban so long as we’re “careful” and “vigilant”? The other anchor then asks him whether, if he thinks assimilation isn’t working, the ban should somehow be extended to American-born Muslims. He starts talking about assimilation again. Seeing that they’re not going to get a straight answer, the anchors finally move along.

Ace thinks Trump’s being weaselly here because he’s already thinking about the general election. Yep, probably right. He can’t completely abandon the red-meat stuff that won him fans in the GOP primary, like mass deportation or banning Muslims from entering, but he can get away with walking back the actual policies so long as he keeps talking up the underlying concerns. This is a nice example of it: Muslims aren’t assimilating, he says, sharia law is terrible for women, he says, and therefore … we need to be vigilant about documentation. That last part wasn’t his policy before, but conservatives agree strongly enough with the other politically incorrect truths in that statement that they’ll let him slide. So that’s one theory, that he’s pivoting to the general. The other theory: This guy hasn’t spent five minutes thinking about policy and tends to fall back on stuff he’s comfortable with whenever he’s challenged on the nuts and bolts. Here’s a glorious exchange from his chat yesterday with the WaPo editorial board when they asked him about nuking ISIS:

“Would you nuke ISIS, Mr. Trump?” “You’ve got some good-looking people here, you know that?” Whatever else those debates this fall with Hillary end up being, they won’t be boring. Click the image to watch.