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The walk back to the center

President-elect Donald Trump gave his first post-election interview on “60 Minutes” on Sunday, Nov. 13; Trump stood firm on some issues and seemed to walk back on others. Steve Bannon, former CEO of Breitbart News, was named as Trump’s chief strategist and Reince Priebus was also named chief of staff.

On “60 Minutes” with Lesley Stahl, Trump said that he would consider putting a fence instead of a wall in some places along the border. However, he stood by his stance of deporting immigrants without papers and who have a criminal record. Trump estimated that it would be between two to three million people who would be deported by his plan.

“After the border is secured and after everything gets normalized. We’re going to make a determination on the (undocumented immigrants) that you’re talking about—who are terrific people,” Trump said during the interview. “They’re terrific people, but we are gonna make a determination at that.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan said that a deportation force in not on the GOP agenda.

Trump also said that he would keep some aspects of the Affordable Care Act such as guaranteed insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and extended periods of coverage for individuals up to 26-year-olds living with their parents. Trump said that the healthcare plans will not have a gap in between the repeal of Obamacare and the implementation of Trump’s plan, and that the 20 million individuals who could lose their insurance will not be entirely jeopardized.

“We’re not going to have, like, a two-day period and we’re not going to have a two-year period where there’s nothing,” Trump said. “It will be repealed and replaced.”

The president-elect also explained that he would choose a conservative pro-life judge for the Supreme Court Justice position left empty by Justice Antonin Scalia. He would not say whether he would expect his choice of judge to overturn Roe v. Wade, a Supreme court decision which said abortions are a fundemental right, but that women who would seek an abortion could go to another state and that “we’ll see what happens.”

Trump has gone back and forth several times on the subject. Before running for president, he described himself as pro-choice, he later said that the law is fixed and cannot be changed, then he briefly wanted women who receive abortions to be punished, and finally he seems to have settled on giving the rights back to the state.

During a later portion of the interview with his family Trump did not say if he supported marriage equality, but that it was already settled with the courts.

“It was settled in the Supreme Court. I mean it’s done,” said Trump.

Stahl did not press how marriage equality cannot be changed after a decision by the Supreme Court, but that abortion rights will go back to the state.

Stahl, in a post-interview, said that Trump sees issues similar to how a business person sees a deal.

“Some of his signature issues at the heart of his campaign were not meant to be taken literally, but as opening bids for negotiation,” Stahl said.

This falls in line with an idea first started by Salena Zito of the Atlantic back in September.

“The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally,” wrote Zito.

Which may explain why Trump is not as concerned with Secretary Clinton as he was during the primary. Only weeks before he declared that he would set up a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton and has repeatedly referred to her as “crooked Hillary.” Although, some of his followers seem to have taken his agenda seriously as chants of “lock her up” have spread across the nation. 

But now Trump said that he wants to focus on policy instead: jobs, healthcare and immigration.

“I don’t want to hurt them. They’re good people,” said Trump, referring to the Clintons.

Trump’s choice of Steve Bannon as the new chief strategist has been controversial because of his involvement of Breitbart News, a self-styled alt-right website that has drawn criticism from all sides because of their close ties to the white nationalist movement. The Southern Poverty Law Center has described the alt-right as having as their “core belief” that “white identity” is under attack by multicultural forces using “political correctness” and “social justice” to undermine white people and “their civilization.” The Southern Poverty Law Center has also described Breitbart news as “promoting the core issues of the alt-Right, introducing these racist ideas to its readership—much to the delight of many in the white nationalist world.”

The appointment of Reince Priebus as the new chief of staff seems to go in a different—establishment pleasing—direction. Priebus was the chairman of the Republican National Committee since 2011, and is quite a departure from Trump’s “drain the swamp” campaign.

Both choices may be a play by Trump to not lose his anti-establishment followers while keeping the establishment happy, which Trump will need if he wishes to move forward with his agenda.

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The walk back to the center