by Michael Lucchese
In an interview earlier this week, Donald Trump restated his position on the controversial North Carolina transgender bathroom law.
“Well, I’m going with the state on this one,” Trump said before a rally on Tuesday. “The state is, uh, you know, they know what’s going on, they see what’s happening, and generally speaking, I’m with the state on things like this.”
“And, uh, I’ve spoken to your governor. I’ve spoken to a lot of different people, and I’m going with the state on this one,” Trump went on to say.
Earlier in the election cycle, Trump had initially signaled opposition to the law.
“North Carolina, what they’re going through with all the business that’s leaving and all of the strife — and that’s on both sides. You leave it the way it is,” Trump said in an interview with the Today Show in April. “There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go; they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate. There has been so little trouble. And the problem with what happened in North Carolina is the strife and the economic punishment that they’re taking.”
However, after taking heavy criticism from fellow candidate Ted Cruz and other conservative leaders, Trump shifted to a position of federalism, similar to what he reiterated on Tuesday.
Whether or not this shift has been enough to help him is unclear. Despite winning over the support of many evangelical leaders and voters, Trump has faced consistent criticism from the social conservative backbone of the Republican coalition. Many argue that he simply does not understand the issues important to them, and that a Trump Administration would do little to advance a socially conservative agenda.
With the GOP national convention in Cleveland rapidly approaching, Trump is looking to shore up support with the conservative wing of the party and head into the general election with a unified Republican Party behind him.
It remains to be seen if his tepid support for the North Carolina bill can win over conservative skeptics.
Michael Lucchese works for the American Principles Project.