- Presumptive Republican nominee says he would act with ‘heart’
- Clinton campaign says Trump’s trying to ‘mask his policies’
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said on Saturday that he wouldn’t characterize his immigration policies as including “mass deportations,” drawing a sharp retort from the campaign of Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Trump, in an interview at his golf course in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, said that rather than a blanket ban on Muslims coming to the U.S., a position he took in late 2015, he’d focus on those from countries with links to terrorists. The Republican also said he would start from scratch on the sweeping Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact.
Trump said his immigration policies would have “heart,” suggesting he may be shifting tone to transition into general-election mode after the bruising primary season.
“President Obama has mass deported vast numbers of people -- the most ever, and it’s never reported. I think people are going to find that I have not only the best policies, but I will have the biggest heart of anybody,” Trump said.
Pressed on whether he would issue “mass deportations,” Trump answered: “No, I would not call it mass deportations.”
In Trump’s immigration plan, released in 2015, the U.S. will build a wall along its border with Mexico and make Mexico pay for the structure by, in part, impounding certain remittance payments. Trump has also said he would deport all undocumented immigrants, a number estimated at 11 million.
Trump, 70, continued eating fish and chips at his golf course’s clubhouse before adding: “We are going to get rid of a lot of bad dudes who are here,” he said. “That I can tell you.”
Earlier Saturday, Trump told reporters that he’d seek to restrict people from unspecified “terrorist countries” from entering the U.S. It marked a shift from a news release on Dec. 7 saying that, if elected, Trump wanted “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
There were an estimated 1.6 billion Muslims in the world as of 2010, or about 23 percent of the world’s population, according to the Pew Research Center.
“I want terrorists out. I want people that have bad thoughts out. I would limit specific terrorist countries and we know who those terrorist countries are,” Trump said.
Trump didn’t specify which countries may be included. Although the jihadist group Islamic State has occupied swathes of Iraq and Syria, Europe has also been rocked by terror attacks orchestrated by citizens of France and Belgium who were the sons of immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa.
As Trump appeared to soften on his stance on Muslims, Clinton’s campaign, which wants to capitalize on Trump’s unpopularity with various minority groups, sought to tie him to his broadest proposals.
‘Mask His Policies’
“Make no mistake, Donald Trump has called for a ‘deportation force’ that would tear families apart and deport millions,” Lorella Praeli, who directs the campaign’s Latino vote efforts, said in an e-mailed statement on Sunday. “Trump may try to mask his policies, but he’s made clear that immigrants and Latinos have no place in his vision of America.”
The gunman in the Orlando, Florida, massacre this month was the New York-born son of immigrants from Afghanistan, while the perpetrator of a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, in December was a U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent, and his wife was a Pakistani-born lawful resident.
On the TPP, the trade agreement signed this year by 12 Pacific Rim countries, Trump said he would prefer bilateral talks.
“I like the idea of making deals with individual countries. They put in these vast number of countries and it gets so complicated and it’s more than 6,000 pages,” Trump said.
Trump hammered Obama for his work in negotiating the TPP, an agreement seven years in the making. When asked if he would renegotiate the whole deal, Trump answered: “Yes.”
His comments differed from Obama’s interview with Bloomberg Businessweek published earlier this week. Obama suggested that Trump was resorting to “nativism and nostalgia and the sense that these are things that are now out of control.”
“The majority of people, whether in the United States, in Europe, or certainly in rapidly advancing parts of the world like Asia -- those folks recognize that the world has shrunk, and that if the rules are structured properly, this gives them more opportunity, not less, to succeed,” Obama said.
Golf Course Tour
Trump, in a suit and open-necked shirt, spent part of the final day of his first overseas trip as presumptive nominee giving more than 100 journalists a tour of his luxury golf property on Scotland’s northeast coast, about 136 miles (219 kilometers) north of Edinburgh. Greens fees at the Trump International course go as high as 215 pounds ($294).
Only about a dozen protesters turned out for Trump. They included Michael Forbes, who displayed a Mexican flag on his house adjacent to the links. Forbes sparred with Trump several years ago by refusing to sell his home on the tract of land Trump transformed into a golf course.
Trump compared his dissenting neighbors to the crowded field of Republican presidential candidates this year. “I have one or two that are a little contentious, which is fine because they lost. It’s like some of the people I beat in the primaries -- they’re not exactly in love with me,” Trump said.
The candidate downplayed financial market volatility in the wake of Thursday’s vote by the U.K. to leave the European Union. “There’s always turmoil,” he said, and criticized Democrat Hillary Clinton for having been “100 percent wrong” on Brexit.
Before flying back to the U.S. late Saturday, Trump met with billionaire Rupert Murdoch, founder and co-chairman of News Corp. Before the meeting, he huddled with family members and political advisers in the clubhouse.
At Trump’s dining table was Steven Mnuchin, his campaign’s national finance chairman; press secretary Hope Hicks; one of his eight grandchildren; daughter-in-law Vanessa Trump; and his eldest son Donald Jr.