The issue at stake is the highly controversial HB2 bill in North Carolina which restricts bathroom use for trans people by only allowing individuals to use restrooms that correspond to the gender of their birth. The issue has been largely ignored on the Republican side of the presidential race, aside from words of support from Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich questioning whether is was necessary.
Cruz, a staunch conservative, has said that the country collectively has “gone off the deep end,” in the backlash to this bill.
“That’s not a reasonable position, it is simply crazy and the idea that grown men would be allowed alone in a bathroom with little girls—you don’t need to be a behavioral psychologist to realize bad things can happen, and any prudent person wouldn’t allow that,” Cruz told Glenn Beck Thursday morning.
And Trump, well, he took a much different tack on The Today Show.
Asked about the HB2 bill Thursday morning, he co-opted a liberal stance on the issue: Let it be.
“Look, North Carolina did something that was very strong, and they’re paying a big price. And there’s a lot of problems,” Trump said, tiptoeing around the rim of the issue. “I heard one of the best answers I heard was from a commentator yesterday saying leave it the way it is right now. There have been very few problems.”
He went on to say that Caitlyn Jenner, a trans woman, would be allowed to use whichever bathroom she would like in Trump Tower. How noble.
This of course incensed the Cruz campaign, who has taken Trump to task in the past for his lack of true conservative values.
“So Trump says we should give him the nomination AND let dudes who want to be girls use the bathroom with my daughter. #NeverTrump,” Cruz’s top strategist Jason Johnson fired off in a tweet. He has not responded to a request for comment from The Daily Beast.
Cruz himself seized on Trump’s remarks at a Maryland rally Thursday afternoon.
“Donald agreed with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in attacking the state of North Carolina for passing their bathroom ordinance,” Cruz said. “And Donald on television this morning said gosh he thought men should be able to go into the girls bathroom if they want to. Now let me ask you: Have we gone stark raving nuts?”
However this line of attack—Cruz, the stalwart of conservatism, vs. Trump, the anything-goes secret liberal—is nothing new for the Cruz campaign.
In February, shortly after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Cruz’s campaign released an attack ad featuring Trump’s remarks during an appearance on Meet the Press in 1999.
“I’m very pro-choice,” Trump said over 15 years before his presidential campaign began. The ad suggests that a Trump administration would bring about a liberal Supreme Court justice, upending the legacy of Scalia’s pro-life stance.
“Life, marriage, religious liberty, the Second Amendment. We’re just one Supreme Court justice away from losing them it all,” the narrator dramatically says. “We cannot trust Donald Trump with these serious decisions.”
The irony though is that Cruz is standing alone on this issue among the Republican candidates. And he’s not going after the guy who first took up the mantle against the bill.
Kasich previously expressed a similar position to Trump, suggesting that the law was “polarizing” during an appearance on Face the Nation last month.
“In our state, we’re not facing this, so everybody needs to take a deep breath, respect one another, and the minute we start trying to write laws, things become more polarized, things—they become more complicated,” Kasich said. “Why do we have to write a law every time we turn around in this country? Can’t we figure out just how to get along a little bit better and respect one another? I mean that’s where I think we ought to be. Everybody chill out. Get over it if you have a disagreement with somebody. So that’s where I am right now…and unless something pops up, I’m not inclined to sign anything.”
Kasich’s campaign has not responded to a request for comment about him agreeing with the real estate mogul on a major issue.
But maybe all the fracas is for nought. Trump did change his position on abortion half a dozen times in about three days.
Trump’s campaign has yet to release a statement refuting what the candidate said.
There’s still a lot time left in the day.
To no one's surprise, Trump altered his stance less than 24 hours later in an interview with Sean Hannity.
"I think that local communities and states should make the decision," he told his Fox pal. "And I feel very strongly about that. The federal government should not be involved."
Update 4/22/16, 9:48 am: The story was updated to reflect Trump changing his mind on his own position.