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Donald Trump changes stance to what’s popular, experts say

Donald Trump has changed his stance on a

Donald Trump has changed his stance on a variety of issues since entering the race in June 2015. Credit: AFP/Getty Images / Jason Redmond

First, Donald Trump was against hiking the minimum wage. Now, he’s for it.

He supported tax cuts for the wealthy, now he suggests a tax hike. He touted that he’s a self-funded candidate, then tapped a former Goldman Sachs executive to launch a national fundraising campaign.

If there’s one consistency about the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, it’s that he’s inconsistent.

On a variety of issues, Trump has changed his stances repeatedly since entering the race in June. Not just wages and tax cuts, but also Syrian refugees, “skilled worker” visas and government debt. And others.

He said he supported waterboarding and forms of torture “a hell of a lot worse.” Then, he sent out a statement saying interrogators couldn’t violate the law. He said women should be given “some form of punishment” for getting an abortion, then changed his mind hours later and said, no, it’s the doctors who perform abortions who should be punished. He praised Canada’s government-run health care system, then said he favored a private system, then pivoted again to say some sort of coverage mandate should be maintained.

This isn’t about a candidate running to the right in a political primary, then turning to the center for a general election campaign, said Matt Hale, a Seton Hall University political scientist. Unlike most politicians, Trump switches so often because he’s chasing what’s popular.

“I think the ideology that appeals to Donald Trump the most is what’s popular,” Hale said. “If people at a rally applaud and cheer what comes out of his mouth, he goes with it. If it’s unpopular, he drops it.

“He’s not running to the center,” Hale said. “He’s running to the popular.”

It hasn’t hurt Trump in the GOP primaries because “his core supporters are so disaffected by government,” they expect politicians to lie and Trump comes off as unfiltered, Hale said.

Just days after the last of his Republican rivals, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, quit the race, Trump added to the list of his reversals.

When asked by CNN if the $7.25 minimum wage should be increased, Trump said, “I am open to doing something with it, because I don’t like that.” He added that workers “have to have something that you can live on.”

That’s a change from his stance throughout the Republican primaries, when he said a minimum-wage hike would spark more jobs overseas.

“Taxes too high, wages too high, we’re not going to be able to compete against the world,” Trump said in a November debate. Now, he says the states should set their own minimum wages.

The same week, he backtracked on a tax proposal he unveiled during the debates. Trump’s plan, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, would cut taxes 19 percent for the very wealthy (defined as the top .01 percent of earners) and 5 percent for the middle class.

Pressed about it, Trump now says the original proposal was just a starting point. “I am not necessarily a huge fan of that,” he told CNBC. “I am so much more into the middle class, who have just been absolutely forgotten in our country.”

He continued: “You know, when you put out a tax plan, you are going to start negotiating. You don’t say, ‘OK, this is our tax plan, lots of luck, folks.’ There will be negotiation back and forth. And I can see that going up, to be honest with you.”

Going further, Trump told ABC’s “This Week” he’s open to requiring the wealthy to pay more in taxes and said on NBC’s “Meet the Press”: “The rich are probably going to end up paying more.”

Similarly, Trump has switched his view on campaign funding. “I’m self-funding” was a Trump line that drew regular applause on the stump and in Republican debates. He called his opponents “puppets” beholden to donors.

Now, he’s tapping into Republican donor networks and political action committees to fund his general election campaign.

“Donald generated such broad-based support that we’re looking to tap into existing party members as well as the new people that have joined the party for him,” Steve Mnuchin, the former Goldman Sachs man whom Trump named his national finance chairman, told The Wall Street Journal.

Trump himself said he’s putting together a “world-class finance organization.”

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