Donald Trump talked to CNN's Anderson Cooper on Thursday evening about the ways that his immigration plan has changed. A change which actually isn't a change. A "softening" that is actually a "hardening."
With Donald Trump, all things are possible.
Cooper struggled mightily to insert questions or clarifications into the Republican nominee's stream of consciousness, but failed to coax a straight answer on his change in approach. It was kind of like watching a person try to bathe a cat while it clawed desperately in an attempt to escape.
At one point after Trump described a process by which "bad dudes" would be deported but other undocumented immigrants may not be, Cooper suggested the plan resembled what Jeb Bush had laid out during the primaries.
Trump responded that Bush was not building a wall or "strong borders" and moved on to the assurance that he plans to deport "many, many" people.
But Trump's pivot on immigration, or the parts of it that are intelligible to the human ear, actually does sound a lot like the punitive hoop-jumping that Marco Rubio and Bush had championed during their own campaigns.
Trump has been short on specifics, but has talked about a process by which undocumented immigrants who have been here for "a long time" would pay back taxes and be able to remain in the country.
"No amnesty, but we work with them,” he said earlier this week.
"The simple fact is there is no plan to deport 11 million people," Jeb Bush told Fox News host Sean Hannity back in February. "We should give them a path to legal status where they work, where they don’t receive government benefits, where they don’t break the law, where they learn English and where they make a contribution to our society. That’s what we need to be focused on."
I took notes as Trump spoke, but it was difficult to keep up with several minutes of his uninterrupted spiraling. So while you may be able to find a full transcript elsewhere, I am prepared to offer you a Trump's immigration blather rendered in the abstract poetry of my rough transcription.
I promise it will change nothing in terms of comprehension:
Let me just tell you what my policy is
We are going to build a great wall. The wall is going to be paid for by Mexico. People are not going to be able to tunnel because there will be tunnel technology.
We’re going to have all sorts of e-verify and everything you can think of in terms of immigration.
We are going to make it like it’s never been before
We’re going to build a wall. We’re going to build a real wall and they do absolutely work if it’s done properly.
We are going to stop immigration pouring into our country.
My first day in office we are going to notify
All of the bad dudes and we have a lot of them that are here illegally and all sorts of people
And there are probably millions of them but certainly hundreds of thousands, big numbers, they’re out. The police know who they are. They deal with them all the time
We’re going to end sanctuary cities
We are going to run a country as it’s going to be run
You can’t just take 11 million at one time and say, "boom you’re gone"
We know the bad ones. We know where they are, who they are
Those people are gone
That’s Jeb Bush’s policy. Jeb Bush wasn’t building a wall, he wasn’t building strong borders
First I want to see what’s going to happen
We’re going to deport many people, many people
We have crime all over this
There is no path to legalization unless people leave the country
If they come back in, when they come back in, they have to start paying taxes
Millions of people
Using the existing laws, the existing laws
Millions of people are deported
It’s Obama, it’s Obama, people don’t talk about that
We’re going to have a very strong border
When these people the drug lords
They’re not coming back in this country
We’re going to see what happens once we strengthen up our border
We’re going to have a real wall, tremendous protection
And then we’re going to see what happens
The answer could be yes
I want to get rid of the bad ones, and there are a lot of them
Right now I’m in New Hampshire
I won the primary in New Hampshire
The people in New Hampshire asked me one favor
"Please, Mr. Trump, stop the drugs"
Destroying the youth and other people
We’re going to stop all drug traffic
We’re going to have a wall that Mexico pays for
The wall is peanuts compared to the money they make
We are going to have a border again
We are going to have
If somebody wants to go legalization route
What they’ll do is go, leave the country, come back in, and hopefully we can talk
It’s very unfair to them some of the rules regulations and policies that I’ve seen
Millions of people want to come into our country legally
The first document I will sign will say get the bad ones out of this country bring them back where they came from