Via Legal Insurrection, something for the “but he fights!” file. Is this one of those answers, as with abortion, where he just doesn’t know what a conservative candidate’s supposed to say? Or is this him pivoting to a more “traditional” campaign for the general, staffed by Paul Manafort’s lobbyist cronies (rigged system!) and chock full of left-ish talking points for swing voters?
Mediaite has a transcript. Note Trump’s rationale: It’s not just that he thinks this issue is much ado about nothing (“there has been so little trouble”), it’s how heavily the risk of economic boycotts seems to weigh on him (“what they are going through with all of the business that’s leaving”). If, like many conservatives, you worry about corporate America smashing legislative backing for state RFRA laws designed to protect religious small-business owners from having to cater gay weddings, you’re getting a taste of what kind of support you can expect from President Trump.
“North Carolina did something that was very strong, and they are paying a big price and there’s a lot of problems,” responded Trump.
“North Carolina, what they are going through with all of the business that’s leaving and the strife– and that’s on both sides. Leave it the way it is. There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate, there has been so little trouble,” he said.
Team Cruz, hearing this, saw their opportunity to needle Trump about political correctness and took it:
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) April 21, 2016
You know what, though? Evangelical voters across the south had a choice in the primaries. They made their choice. Let them live with the consequences now. Besides, Trump atoned to his base in this same interview when he said that Andrew Jackson, who had “a great history,” should be left on the $20 and Harriet Tubman should instead be put on the $2 dollar bill (in place of … Thomas Jefferson?), which no one uses. (The “Today” crew should have asked Trump to name one thing about Jackson’s history that he considers “great.” That would have been a fun answer.) Replacing Jackson with Tubman is “pure political correctness,” he claimed, but he’s got it backwards. Removing Jackson from the $20 in favor of Tubman is defensible on the merits, and something many anti-Trump Republicans have received warmly. This image is making the rounds on social media; “Treasury throws founder of the Democratic Party off $20 bill, replaces with gun-toting Republican,” quipped Dave “Iowhawk” Burge. It’s Trump’s transgender answer, which bows to the left’s identity movement du jour expressly from fear of economic reprisals, on the day after ESPN purged Curt Schilling for mocking it, that’s PC. But as usual, he knows his base and understands that defending Jackson would appeal to its various constituencies — Jacksonians, “cultural conservatives” who see any “diversity” gesture as “PC,” traditional reactionaries, and alt-righters. That’ll probably get him off the hook for the transgender answer.
In lieu of an exit question, read Ben Shapiro on Trump’s curious definitions of “political correctness.”
Update: To be clear, North Carolina’s law isn’t a RFRA law. My point above is simply that if Trump will bow to leftist sensibilities on the former, he’ll end up bowing to them on the latter too.