As he shifts gears ahead of the general election, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has been busy softening his stance on a number of issues -- including self-funding his campaign, taxing the wealthy, raising the federal minimum wage and cutting entitlement spending like Social Security and Medicare.
But perhaps the biggest -- and most brazen -- attempt to make himself more palatable to the GOP establishment and general election voters alike is his recent comment spinning his controversial call to ban all Muslims from entering the United States as "just a suggestion."
"We have a serious problem, and it's a temporary ban -- it hasn't been called for yet, nobody's done it, this is just a suggestion until we find out what's going on," Trump told Fox News Radio's Brian Kilmeade on Wednesday.
That's decidedly not the way Trump and his campaign presented it earlier this year. Take, for example, a statement his campaign released in December in the aftermath of the terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California.
"Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on," the statement read.
Trump has said the ban -- no matter how unworkable and misguided -- would be temporarily in place until "we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat" of Islamic terrorism. In other words: indefinitely.
It is a serious policy proposal from the presumptive nominee of a major political party and ought to be treated as such. The ban is as much a suggestion as any of his other proposals, including his plan to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and his call to repeal Obamacare. The whole point of running for president is to suggest change in national policy (except perhaps Hillary Clinton, who is arguably running on a continuation of President Barack Obama's legacy).
As further evidence of his seriousness, Trump said Wednesday that he may even tap former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani to lead a commission tasked with studying his immigration plans such as barring Muslims and deporting undocumented immigrants.
Moreover, Trump appears to have actually normalized his proposed ban among GOP primary voters. According to exit polls conducted by The Associated Press and Edison Research following March primary elections in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Missouri and Illinois, about two-thirds of GOP primary voters said they supported the ban -- a remarkable feat in just a few short months. The immense public support from Republican voters is further proof that campaign rhetoric isn't merely that; it has real-world consequences.
It is especially important to hold Trump accountable with such attempts to obfuscate and move to the center as he courts establishment figures like House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who on Thursday did not endorse the real estate mogul, but appeared to move closer to a candidate described by some in his party as a "con man” and a "pathological liar."
Editor's note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist
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