Thursday 29 September 2016

Could Donald Trump be softening his plan to deport 11m people from the US?

Erica Werner

Published 22/08/2016 | 15:51

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally in Fredericksburg, Va., Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally in Fredericksburg, Va., Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016

Donald Trump insists he is clear on his proposal to deport the estimated 11 million people living in the United States illegally - even though his new campaign manager now says his stance is "to be determined".

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The Republican candidate said in an interview with Fox & Friends on Monday that he is "not flip-flopping", but wants to come up with "a really fair, but firm" solution.

Mr Trump had previously proposed using a "deportation force" to remove the 11 million people living in the United States illegally - a plan that excited many of his core supporters, but alienated Hispanic voters who could be pivotal in key states.

Republican leaders fear Mr Trump cannot win the presidency, and could drag down the party's congressional candidates, if he does not increase his support beyond his white, male base.

On Saturday, Mr Trump met with Hispanic supporters - representatives of a community that has been wary of the billionaire businessman's deportation proposals and his plans to build a giant wall on the US-Mexico border.

Questioned on whether Mr Trump still intends to deploy the deportation force, campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said on Sunday: "To be determined."

Meanwhile, Republican officials insist the GOP nominee is finally hitting his stride and will catch up with Democrat Hillary Clinton by early September, following a major shake-up to his campaign. Polls now mostly show Mr Trump lagging Mrs Clinton by 5 percentage points or more nationally.

"Donald Trump has been disciplined and mature. And I think he's going to get this thing back on track," Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman, said on Sunday.

Ms Conway echoed Mr Priebus's optimism, contending that the candidate just had the best week of his campaign, "mostly because he's able to be himself, the authentic Donald Trump".

Ms Conway was appointed last week in a shake-up in which the campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, resigned and conservative media firebrand Stephen Bannon, who led Breitbart News, took over as campaign chief executive.

A new style was immediately evident as Mr Trump, in a first, offered regrets for any remarks that had caused offence, stuck with his teleprompter at a series of events, and paid a visit to flood-ravaged Louisiana.

Mr Trump also announced his first ad buys of the campaign, more evidence of an acceptance of the traditional campaign elements most experts believe he will need in order to have a shot at winning. He made a direct appeal to African-American voters, insisting he wants the Republican Party to become their political home.

But Mrs Clinton's campaign manager Robby Mook disputed claims of a turnaround in Mr Trump's candidacy. "We're not seeing a pivot. Donald Trump himself said this was not a pivot. He wants to double down on letting Donald Trump be Donald Trump," he said.

Indeed, Mr Trump was back to his old self on Twitter on Monday morning. He went after MSNBC's Morning Joe, tweeting that the show is "unwatchable!" and said its host Mika Brzezinski "is off the wall, a neurotic and not very bright mess!"

Ms Conway had said on Sunday that Mr Trump "doesn't hurl personal insults".

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