Trump Deportation Waffle Shows Weakness08/30 06:19
Trump is now planning a major immigration speech Wednesday, during which
he's expected to finally clarify his stance. Supporters are hoping for a
strong, decisive showing. But the episode underscores how little time his
campaign has invested in outlining how he would accomplish his goals as
president, especially when compared with the detailed plans of his Democratic
rival, Hillary Clinton.
SEATTLE (AP) -- Donald Trump and his aides used to say that voters didn't
care about the nitty-gritty of policy details. But now those details are
tripping up his campaign.
For more than a week now, as he's tried to shine the spotlight on his rival,
Trump has appeared to wrestle with one of his signature proposals: A pledge to
expel everyone living in the U.S. illegally with the help of a "deportation
At a Fox News town hall taping last week, in the face of pressing questions,
the GOP nominee proceeded to poll the audience at length on the fate of an
estimated 11 million people. It was a stunning display of indecision from a
candidate who has asked voters to put enormous faith in his gut instincts.
Trump is now planning a major speech Wednesday, during which he's expected
to finally clarify his stance. Supporters are hoping for a strong, decisive
showing. But the episode underscores how little time his campaign has invested
in outlining how he would accomplish his goals as president, especially when
compared with the detailed plans of his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. And
for critics, many already disposed to vote against him, his wavering on what
has been his signature issue seems like a warning that he's unable to handle a
central element of any president's job --- making decisions.
"It's just puzzling," said Lanhee Chen, who has served as a policy adviser
to several Republican presidential candidates. "This is the issue on which he
rose to prominence in the primary and the issue on which he continues to stake
much of his campaign."
From the start, Trump has never been the kind of candidate to pore over
thick policy books.
Indeed, he has mocked Clinton on the subject.
"She's got people that sit in cubicles writing policy all day. Nothing's
ever going to happen. It's just a waste of paper," he told Time Magazine in
June. "My voters don't care and the public doesn't care. They know you're going
to do a good job once you're there."
To date, Trump's campaign has posted just seven policy proposals on his
website, totaling just over 9,000 words. There are 38 on Clinton's "issues"
page, ranging from efforts to cure Alzheimer's disease to Wall Street and
criminal justice reform, and her campaign boasts that it has now released 65
policy fact sheets, totaling 112,735 words.
"I've laid out the best I could, the specific plans and ideas that I want to
pursue as your president because I have this old-fashioned idea," Clinton said
during a recent speech in Colorado. "When you run for president, you ought to
tell people what you want to do as their president."
Trump's new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, has said she's pushing her
boss to get more specific. Yet his positions on a host of issues remain vague
For example, while Trump has slammed the Common Core education standards and
touts the benefits of local control of education, he has no formal, detailed
plans for improving public schools. He talks about student loan debt and the
increasing costs of higher education, but has yet to propose solutions. He has
teased plans to make childcare more affordable, but has missed his own deadline
for unveiling them.
Trump's supporters say questions about his recent waffling on the
deportation question are overblown. His running mate, Mike Pence, describes him
as "a CEO at work" as he consults with various stakeholders.
"You see someone who is engaging the American people, listening to the
American people," Pence told CNN on Sunday. "He is hearing from all sides."
But Chen, the Republican policy adviser, said a President Trump arriving at
the White House without detailed plans could be limited in how much he might
achieve, since a new president's power is at its apex early on.
"If you're not able to hit the ground running, chances are you're going to
run into serious resistance if you sit there studying something for the first
100 days," he said.