Donald Trump may be leading the polls for the Republican presidential nomination, but his record suggests little of his support stems from a lengthy history of harboring bedrock conservative principles.
Indeed, a look at Trump’s stances on a number of issues shows him changing his stance from left- to right-leaning – along with his voting registration.
Here are some of the areas in which Trump has changed his tune:
THEN: “I’m very pro-choice. I hate the concept of abortion. I hate it. I hate everything it stands for. I cringe when I hear people debating the subject. But I just believe in choice.” – “Meet the Press,” Oct. 24, 1999. He said in the interview that he was pro-choice “in every respect” and would not ban partial birth abortions.
MORE RECENTLY: “I’m pro-life, but I changed my view a number of years ago,” he said, citing a friend’s decision to keep an unwanted child. “It’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to him. And you know, here’s a baby that wasn’t going to be let into life. And I heard this, and some other stories, and I am pro-life.” – “Christian Broadcast News,” April 2011
NOW: “I’m pro-life and I have been pro-life.” He said he believed there should be “caveats” in cases of rape, incest or the life of the mother. – Interview with Bloomberg, Jan. 24, 2015
THEN: “For people that have been here for years, that have been hard workers, have good jobs, they’re supporting their family – it’s very, very tough to just say, ‘By the way, 22 years, you have to leave. Get out.’ I’m one of the world’s very conservative people, but I have to tell you on a human basis, how do you throw somebody out that’s lived in this country for 20 years?” Fox News, June 18, 2012.
THEN: He called 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s call for migrants to voluntarily return home a “crazy policy of self-deportation which was maniacal. It sounded as bad as it was, and he lost all of the Latino vote. He lost the Asian vote. He lost everybody who is inspired to come into this country.” He added that Democrats “didn’t have a policy for dealing with illegal immigrants, but what they did have going for them is they weren’t mean-spirited about it. They didn’t know what the policy was, but what they were is they were kind.” Interview with Newsmax’s Ronald Kessler, after Romney’s 2012 loss to President Barack Obama.
NOW: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best; they’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” – Trump presidential announcement, June 16, 2015, in New York.
NOW: Calls for tripling the number of immigration agents, deporting those here illegally, ending birthright citizenship and making Mexico pay for a wall along the southern border. Trump Immigration Policy
NOW: “They have to go. We either have a country, or we don’t have a country.” “Meet the Press,” Aug. 16, 2015.
THEN: “Democrats want to confiscate all guns, which is a dumb idea because only the law-abiding citizens would turn in their guns and the bad guys would be the only ones left armed. The Republicans walk the NRA line and refuse even limited restrictions. I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I also support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun. With today’s Internet technology we should be able to tell within 72 hours if a potential gun owner has a record.” Trump, The America We Deserve, 2000
NOW: “The problem is once you get into that you start getting into a situation, the slippery slope, where all of a sudden you are going to violate the Second Amendment. I don’t want to do anything to violate the Second Amendment. To me the Second Amendment is very important. NBC News, July 18 2015
Single-payer health care
THEN: “If you can’t take care of your sick in the country, forget it, it’s all over. I mean, it’s no good. So I’m very liberal when it comes to health care. I believe in universal health care. I believe in whatever it takes to make people well and better.” – “Larry King Live,” Oct. 8 1999
NOW: Trump says a single-payer system works in Canada and works “incredibly well in Scotland and “could have worked in a different age, which is the age you’re talking about here.” He called for a private system but said, “We have to take care of the people that can’t take care of themselves. And I will do that through a different system.”
JULY 1987: Trump registers for the first time in Manhattan, as a Republican.
OCTOBER 1999: Trump registers as a member of the Independence Party.
AUGUST 2001: Trump registers as a Democrat.
SEPTEMBER 2009: After eight years as a Democrat, Trump returns to the Republican Party.
DECEMBER 2011: Trump leaves all three parties, checking off the box marked “I do not wish to enroll in a party.”
APRIL 2012: Trump registers as a Republican The Smoking Gun, citing New York City Board of Elections records (with links to the records).
Trump’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment. Asked about conservative skepticism over some of his stances, Trump in a recent Fox News interview invoked former President Ronald Reagan, a one-time Democrat turned conservative icon.
“He was a Democrat with a liberal bent, and he became a great conservative, in my opinion,” Trump told Sean Hannity. “He had something very special. But if you think of it, he was a little bit less conservative, actually, than people think. He had a great heart. And I have a great heart.”