First One Hundred Days: Trump Clarifies Campaign Rhetoric

By William Moore, National News Assistant Editor

President – elect Donald Trump has begun to loosen his stance on many of the hardline promises that he made over the course of his campaign, as USA Today reported on Friday, November 18.

While most presidential candidates work to fulfill many of their campaign promises once elected, however some degree of backpedaling is inevitable. The hardline stances that candidates took to win support during the election meet with the realities of taking stewardship of the most powerful office in the United States.

In particular, the USA Today identified Trump’s stances on Obamacare and several of the more contentious aspects of his immigration and border-security policies as areas where the soon to be president has begun to soften his tough rhetoric.

Over the course of the past several weeks, Trump has made several statements to show that he is reconsidering several of the positions that he took over the course of his campaign.  On the subject of his plans for addressing healthcare concerns, Trump stated in an interview conducted with the Wall Street Journal that “either Obamacare will be amended, or repealed and replaced.”

No matter what ends up happening to Obamacare, certain aspects of the healthcare reform introduced in 2010 would remain under Trump. Specifically, those under the age of 26 can remain on their parent’s insurance and individuals with pre-existing health conditions will continue to have coverage. Trump said this was “one of the strongest assets” of the Affordable Care Act in a February debate.

While certainly still keeping true to the spirit of his promise, statements like these leave room for compromise in a way that Trump’s original campaign stances never did.  As CNN reports, Trump used much stronger language at rallies during the primaries: “Look at the mess, and look at the corruption…Real change begins immediately with the repealing and replacing of the disaster known as Obamacare.”

Regarding the “big beautiful wall” that Trump has promised to construct between the United States and Mexico’s border, Trump stated in a recent interview with 60 Minutes that he might build a fence instead, and a number of Trump’s surrogates have suggested that the wall may end up being more of a metaphor for overall enhanced border security than an actual physical barrier spanning the entirety of the United States’ southern border.  As POLITICO reports, this sentiment is echoed by a number of senior GOP representatives. Utah senator Orrin Hatch, who stated that the wall itself may have to be “re-evaluated” but that Trump was “serious about having a way of keeping people out who shouldn’t be in our country.”

While traditionally backtracking on the part of political candidates has been met with harsh criticism by supporters, as the USA Today reports, Trump may be the exception to this rule.  Simply because of the quantity and severity of many of his campaign promises, it is possible that a number of Trump supporters honestly did not expect the candidate to completely follow through on many of his promises.  Longtime Trump supporter Gene Dunn suggests that many people who were frightened by Trump’s strong rhetoric during the campaign simply didn’t understand the man behind the speeches.  Dunn suggests that Trump’s campaign promises were very much in line with well-known principles of negotiation such as over-asking at first and then making some concessions to allow both parties to feel like winners.

Whatever the reason, a bit more restraint and moderation will certainly be popular amongst those who did not support the president-elect and have expressed a great degree of fear regarding what will happen now that he has been elected president.  Only time will tell which promises made by Trump the candidate will be kept by Trump the president, and to what degree.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 22nd print edition.

Contact William at


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