Donald Trump’s campaign tried to downplay the Republican nominee’s stance on immigration, insisting Thursday that “nothing has changed as far as the policies.”
“It is this week what it’s always been,” Kellyanne Conway said in an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “New Day,” referring to Trump’s immigration position.
Conway, who was appointed as Trump’s campaign manager last week, said that the candidate still opposes “amnesty.”
Her comments come less than 12 hours after Trump gave yet another indication that his once-hardline immigration position is undergoing a significant shift.
In an interview Wednesday night on Fox News, Trump suggested that his policies may allow some undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States — an apparent departure from his previous calls to deport the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country.
“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.
Those comments may not go over well with the Republicans and conservatives who were drawn to Trump’s tough immigration policies.
Right-wing commentator Ann Coulter, author of the just-released book “In Trump We Trust,” reacted disapprovingly to the GOP nominee’s latest shift.
“It’s not ‘amnesty.’ It’s ‘comprehensive immigration reform’!!!” Coulter tweeted, referring to the failed 2013 Senate legislation.
But Conway argued on Thursday that Trump isn’t abandoning any position, saying he “is not for amnesty.” And she sought to distinguish Trump’s position from that failed Senate bill, which Trump used as cudgel to attack Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) during the primaries.
“Rubio is a particularly different case because led the Gang of Eight with Chuck Schumer and I think Dick Durbin,” Conway said, referring to the pair of Democratic senators who led the bipartisan group that wrote the legislation. “The Gang of Eight, their plan was amnesty.”
Conway said that the GOP nominee is crafting a new message on immigration with the assistance of two political veterans: Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a border hawk, and Stephen Miller, a Trump adviser and former Sessions staffer.
“These are immigration experts,” Conway said. “I think that they are trying to find a way to explain — well, for Donald Trump to articulate to Americans a very complex issue and how he feels about it.”
“But I assure you, nothing has changed as far as the policies,” she added.
Tom Kludt, CNN