Just last month, on January 5, current 2016 GOP front-runner Donald Trump sat down with the editorial board of the New York Times, a ritual that is observed by nearly every candidate when he or she decides to seek the highest office in the land. The goal is for the candidates to get the approval and eventual endorsement of the most important newspaper in the United States. The meeting with Trump, like those with other contenders, was partially on the record, and partially off.
It is the off-the-record portion with Trump that is now causing so much conversation. Those who are privy to what Trump said, however, are now suggesting that he told the Times editorial board that his plan to deport 11 million immigrants is nothing more than a campaign ploy he is using in order to attract media attention and hustle votes.
Times columnist Gail Collins, who was one of those present at the meeting, had this to say in her column:
‘The most optimistic analysis of Trump as a presidential candidate is that he just doesn’t believe in positions, except the ones you adopt for strategic purposes when you’re making a deal. So you obviously can’t explain how you’re going to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, because it’s going to be the first bid in some future monster negotiation session.’
Other staffers at the newspaper have suggested that what Trump actually said is something he can never utter in public: That he is merely trying to say things that gain him traction in the primary and general election fight, should he happen to win the GOP nomination. Translation: Trump does not intend to deport anyone, but he’s painted himself into the proverbial corner. If he backs down now, he will be seen as spineless, a traitor to the issue he first became known for.
The Times, of course, can end all of the chatter and speculation by simply releasing the tape of Trump’s meeting with the editorial board. But editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal has said that he will not comment “on what was off the record at our meeting with him.” And he added:
‘If [Trump] wants to call up and ask us to release this transcript, he’s free to do that and then we can decide what we would do.’
Both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have called for Trump to allow the release of that cherished transcript. But will he? It seems unlikely, since it would probably sink Trump’s campaign and wind up showing him for what he is: a huckster and con man who has already fooled millions across the country.
In case you missed it, here’s Trump fulminating on his signature issue of deportation: