Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump seems to have riled one of his major conservative supporters for comments seen as softening the candidate's hard line against immigration to the United States.
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In her new book, "In Trump We Trust," conservative pundit Ann Coulter, a staunch opponent of illegal immigration, wrote that there is nothing that Trump could do that would not be forgiven, "except change his immigration policies," as noted by the political news website The Hill.
But he now seems to have done that, exploring options with a town hall audience hosted by Sean Hannity of Fox News: "There certainly can be a softening, because we're not looking to hurt people," Trump told his audience for a program aired in segments Tuesday and Wednesday. On the Wednesday segment he said illegal immigrants would pay "back taxes" although there would be no amnesty, "but we work with them," the political news website Politico reported.
Politico also noted that Trump recalled meeting with "very strong people" who have told him "it's so tough" to throw out people who have been in the country for 15 to 20 years. "It's a very, very hard thing," Trump acknowledged.
The timing of Trump's apparent policy shift was particularly awkward for Coulter, who formally launched her book Wednesday evening at the Washington headquarters of the right-wing news website Breitbart News. She initially soft-pedalled Trump's move, telling The Hill that "it's just rhetoric but it's still annoying," But Coulter also ventured her opinion on what Trump should have said, telling The Hill: "What he should've said is 'We'll decide.' No one has a right who is here illegally. No one has a right to stay. We'll decide if it helps the country or not for them to stay."
But later she took to Twitter with much harsher criticism of the presidential candidate, sarcastically tweeting: "Well, if it's 'hard,' then nevermind." And early on Thursday she retweeted the comment: "Muslim [collecting] 4 years of welfare in Maine while becoming radicalized & joined ISIS!"