Donald Trump campaign spokeswoman Katrina Pierson said Thursday on CNN that Trump had not changed his previously staunch position on deporting all illegal immigrants but rather had "changed the words that he is saying."
Trump, whose call to build a southern border wall and deport roughly 11 million illegal immigrants helped catapult him to the Republican nomination, suggested this week he could be open to a process of legalization to let illegal immigrants remain in the country.
"No citizenship," Trump said at a Fox News town hall this week."Let me go a step further—they’ll pay back-taxes, they have to pay taxes. There’s no amnesty, as such, there’s no amnesty, but we work with them."
"That’s a big change," CNN anchor Erica Hill said to Pierson.
"He hasn’t changed his position on immigration," Pierson said. "He’s changed the words that he is saying."
Her remarks drew laughter from the rest of the Newsroom panel, particularly from commentator Amanda Carpenter, who formerly worked for Trump arch-rival Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas).
Katrinia Pierson on CNN just said Trump hasn't "changed his position on immigration, he's just changed the words he's saying."
— ErikWemple (@ErikWemple) August 25, 2016
"He isn't changing his position, he's changing the words he's using" Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson on Trump changing immigration stance
— Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) August 25, 2016
"What he has always said from the beginning is that he does not want to allow people to stay in this country illegally," Pierson said. "He does want to build a wall."
"Just got 1o feet shorter, though," Carpenter quipped, referencing Trump’s scold to Mexico when he said its opposition to the idea only would make the future wall higher.
Hill insisted Trump had shifted his position with these new remarks, but Pierson said the message of removing illegal immigrants had not changed.
"There’s not a different message. He’s using different words to give that message, because everyone on the news is saying that he’s a bigot and that he’s a racist because of the words that he uses," Pierson said.