It appears to this observer of the 2016 presidential campaign that the Republican electorate that voted Trump the presumptive presidential nominee absolutely does not care what he says from day-to-day on any issue or topic, just as long as he keeps up his derogatory style and his white nationalist/nativist approach.
Every day Trump's opinions change - he's a master flip-flopper - whether it's on the minimum wage or having Larry Kudlow rewrite his tax plan and his recent statements that women should be punished if they get an abortion, is now up for grabs as well.
In an NBC town hall hosted by Chris Matthews, Trump said in no uncertain terms that yes, women should be criminally punished for deciding to have control of their own bodies and get an abortion.
Mathews: ...but the Churches make their moral judgements, but you're running for president of the United States, chief executive of the United States. Do you believe in punishment for abortions, yes or no as a principle?
Trump: The answer is that, (pause) there has to be some form of punishment.
Mathews: For the woman?
Trump: Yea, it has to be some form.
Mathews: Ten years?
Trump: That I don't know. That I don't know.
He made those comments on March 30, 2016.
Today, the NY Times ran an article called "Mr. Trump’s Wild Ride," written by Robert Draper, which discussed his comments to Chris Matthews. Check out how he's now lying about what he said and what he meant.
Then there was his interview the previous week with the MSNBC host Chris Matthews, who asked him whether his pro-life views meant that he also supported criminal penalties for a woman who had an abortion. Trump had replied that yes, there should be “some form of punishment.”
Now he argued to me, rather unconvincingly, that he had been misinterpreted: “I didn’t mean punishment for women like prison. I’m saying women punish themselves. I didn’t want people to think in terms of ‘prison’ punishment. And because of that I walked it back.”
Chris Matthews was very precise in his questions and when he asked Trump how long a women should go to jail, he said he didn't know. He didn't say they should flog themselves emotionally over their decision. Watch the video again. He's quite clear that he believes women should be punished.
The Trump campaign knows he has a problem with women, so this is a conscious effort to change the narrative.
A more believable explanation, furnished by a senior adviser for the Trump campaign, is this: Trump, a serial non-apologizer, initially saw nothing wrong with his remark and refused to walk it back. Only when every network chief executive and over 100 media outlets besieged the Trump campaign with requests for additional comment on how women should be punished for abortions did the Trump campaign turn to an ally: Chris Christie, whose tenure as the Republican governor of the blue state of New Jersey had given him experience placating both social conservatives and the moderate voters Trump hoped to attract in the general election. A member of Christie’s political team helped draft a statement that essentially repudiated Trump’s earlier one.
Trump's style on policy is, "Are you going to believe what I said yesterday or what I said today?"