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Trump adds pragmatism to polemic on policy

Donald Trump and top allies have shown signs the New York billionaire may moderate some of his biggest campaign promises, while digging his heels in on others.

In the wake of Mr Trump’s stunning electoral win last week, both political analysts and financial investors are waiting to see which of the two Donald Trumps will prevail: the bombastic primary candidate, or a pragmatist who viewed his more extreme campaign positions as bargaining points.

An initial answer to the question is likely to be revealed in the coming days when Mr Trump reveals his new chief-of-staff, a decision his campaign manager Kellaynne Conway said was “imminent”.

In a television interview with 60 Minutes on Sunday, Mr Trump confirmed that he planned to deport or jail up to 3m undocumented immigrants who had a criminal record.

“What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, we have a lot of these people — probably two million, it could be even three million — we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate,” he said, echoing an earlier campaign point.

But he asserted that the remaining 8m to 9m undocumented immigrants in the country were “terrific people” and that a decision about whether or not to deport them would only be taken later into his presidency.

Mr Trump said his long-proposed wall on the US border with Mexico could include “some fencing”. “For certain areas, I would [accept fencing] but certain areas, a wall is more appropriate. I’m very good at this. It’s called construction.”

He also suggested he would now try to keep certain elements of the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — when he rolled out his own healthcare initiative, including allowing children in their twenties to stay on their parents’ healthcare plan and ensuring that people with pre-existing conditions were still able to receive coverage.

“During the campaign, Trump was a master at keeping both possibilities open, broadening his appeal,” Andrew Sheets, a Morgan Stanley strategist, wrote in a note to investors on Sunday. “Like Schrodinger’s cat, his policies existed in a state of being both pragmatic and radical, all at the same time.”

Dennis Goldford, a political-science professor at Drake University in Iowa, said although Mr Trump had campaigned as an anti-establishment candidate, he was likely to be afforded some flexibility by his supporters, or at least initially.

“His election in some ways is symbolic. It drove a stake through the heart of Hillary Clinton’s political career. They’re thrilled and extremely happy with that,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump’s Republican allies took pains to show that Mr Trump was willing to temper some of his more extreme campaign stances,

Republican House speaker Paul Ryan echoed Mr Trump’s immigration comments, saying the president-elect was not planning to create a deportation force to kick the country’s 11m undocumented immigrants out.

“That is not what our focus is on — our focus in on securing the borders,” Mr Ryan said in an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN. “Securing the border is our top priority … We are not planning on erecting a deportation force,” he said.

Newt Gingrich, the former Republican House Speaker, said Mr Trump planned to take a bipartisan approach to working with Congress.

“He can work with Chuck Schumer on infrastructure. He can find a bipartisan path that allows us to dramatically improve infrastructure,” he said in an interview with CBS.

Still, there were signs that Mr Trump was not an entirely changed person, particularly on Twitter, where he devoted three tweets to eviscerating the New York Times for what he claimed was “very poor and highly inaccurate coverage” of him.

On 60 Minutes, Mr Trump defended his use of Twitter and said he was likely to continue to try to use the social media platform as president but in a “more restrained” form.

“When you give me a bad story or when you give me an inaccurate story … I have a method of fighting back,” he said.

Via FT