Barry Bennett, Trump senior political adviser
Donald Trump spent his first two weeks as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee changing his stances on a number of policy issues, sometimes multiple times. That got an interesting defense from one of his senior advisers on Friday.
Speaking on a panel on CNN, Barry Bennett, a senior political adviser to the Trump campaign, defended Trump’s waffling by saying that anything he puts forward is “a suggestion to Congress,” noting that “he has to persuade Congress to do it and all he can try to do is persuade Congress to go along with him.”
When a fellow panelist pointed out in response, “Typically, words matter,” Bennett had a strange response.
“Oh please, this words matter stuff. This is ridiculous,” he said. “You are looking desperately for a reason not to vote for him.”
He clarified only that he was referring to his fellow panelist’s “line of rhetoric.”
Trump has flip flopped on a number of high-profile issues since all of his fellow Republican candidates left the race. He has frequently called for a “total and complete” ban on letting Muslim immigrants into the United States, saying “we have no choice.” But this week he changed that stance, saying that his repeated call for a ban is “just a suggestion.”
Although he put out a detailed tax reform plan last year, he has now said it is just a “concept” and that he’s “not a huge fan” of the fact that the plan would give most tax relief to the rich and far less to the middle class. He also commissioned two conservatives to draft a set of possible changes to bring down the nearly $10 trillion price tag. But then he announced that he wouldn’t be changing his plan after all.
Trump has repeatedly promised his supporters that he will protect the large entitlement programs Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid from cuts. But ahead of a meeting between Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), who has yet to endorse him and who has frequently called for cuts to those programs, Trump’s chief policy adviser indicated that promise isn’t iron-clad. “After the administration has been in place, then we will start to take a look at all of the programs, including entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare,” Sam Clovis said.
Trump had also previously opposed raising the minimum wage, saying that wages are “too high” and that the floor has to be left “the way it is.” He now disagrees with that position, although his current view is hard to pin down. Last week he said he’s “looking at” a higher wage, but he later said that he wanted to have states raise the wage, not increase it at the federal level. Then he tweeted a defense against accusations from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) indicating that he wants a higher federal minimum wage across the whole country. Then shortly after that he said in an interview Sean Hannity that states should be left to determine increases because of different costs of living.