Has Donald Trump changed his position on a border wall? Specifically, has the president changed his position on the length of the proposed wall? Was his position once that the wall should span all 1,954 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, but is now that the wall should cover significantly less than those 1,954 miles?
Judging by reporting in the last few days, the answer to those questions is yes. "The president had recently started to water down his statements about building a wall and told lawmakers last week that 2,000 miles of wall would not be needed because of natural borders," the New York Times reported Thursday morning. Other news reports suggested that Trump has changed his original plan for a 2,000-mile wall to something much shorter.
But is that really a change? In fact, a look back at Trump's campaign statements shows that he has long said — from the very beginning of the campaign — that his proposed wall did not need to stretch the entire 2,000-mile border. Forgive the repetition, but here are a few examples of Trump discussing the wall's length:
First, an Aug. 25, 2016, interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity:
HANNITY: We're going to build the wall. Let's talk about it's 2,000 miles, explain you're only going to build 1,000 of wall. What do you do on that other 1,000 miles?
TRUMP: Well, like I said last night, it's 13,000 miles for China, right? And that was 2,000 years ago, and they had no trouble. They had plenty of labor, there's no question about it, but they had no trouble. So they built a 13,000-mile wall. We have 2,000 miles, but we need 1,000. So it's 1,000 versus 13,000. And it's modern. It will get done so quickly your head will spin. It will get done quickly.
Then, an Aug. 10, 2016 campaign speech in Virginia:
Just so you understand — look, some of these politicians would get off stage with me and they'd say, 'You know that you can't build a wall.' I said, 'really?' China just built 2,000 years ago. China built a wall 2,000 years ago, 13,000 miles. We have 2,000 miles, of which we really need 1,000 miles, because you have a lot of natural barriers — lot of natural barriers. So you need a 1,000. But we have — 2,000 years ago, a wall was built, the Great Wall of China. This is a serious wall. OK? This is a very serious wall. And we have to build 1,000 and we have Caterpillar tractors. We have Caterpillar tractors.
From Trump's March 2, 2016, remarks following Super Tuesday voting:
So when you think of it — and then they say you'll never be able to build a wall. Well, it's 2,000 miles, but we really need 1,000 miles. The Great Wall of China, built 2,000 years ago, is 13,000 miles, folks, and they didn't have Caterpillar tractors, because I only want to use Caterpillar, if you want to know the truth, or John Deere. I buy a lot of equipment from John Deere. I love John Deere, too. But they didn't have tractors. They didn't have cranes. They didn't have excavation equipment. The wall is 13,000 miles long. We need 1,000 miles and we have all of the materials.
From a Dec. 30, 2015, campaign rally in South Carolina:
Folks, when I say, "We're going to build a wall," most of them say, "You can't build a wall — build a wall." In China 2,000 years ago, they built the Great Wall of China, which is bigger than any wall we're thinking about, OK? The Great Wall of China goes 18,000 miles. We have 2,000 miles of which we only need 1,000 miles, because you have a lot of natural barriers, right, that are extremely tough to get across. We have 1,000 miles.
From a Nov. 28, 2015, interview with Hannity:
In China, the great China wall — I mean, you want to talk about a wall, that's a serious wall, OK? That wall, you don't climb over with a ladder. You don't even go under it, OK? That wall is 13,000 miles. If you add up everything in the kitchen sink with what we're talking about on our border, it's less than 2,000 miles. And a lot of it, you don't have to do because you're covered with terrain and you're covered with areas that are already built.
From an Aug. 20, 2015, interview with Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo:
You know, interestingly, the wall on southern border, it's — really, if you think it's 1,000 miles but it's 2,000 miles, but a lot of it — some of it's done — it's done poorly, by the way, what they have done is very poor, very poor work, a very poor job, and very — not much of a wall. But you also have natural terrain, which is automatically a barrier, which is a good thing. So you're talking about 1,000. And then you look at the Great Wall of China that was built 2,500 years ago. It's 13,000 miles. And we're really talking about something more than a little more than 1,000 miles.
From a June 25, 2015, interview with CNN's Erin Burnett:
BURNETT: So the length of the border is just about 2,000 miles, right, 1,954. The General Accounting Office did an analysis about five years ago, and they said their estimate of what a fence would cost is $3.9 million a mile. You know math, Donald, as well as anyone, that's $7.6 billion. You have said Mexico would pay for that. Are you going to get them to pay $7.6 billion?
TRUMP: The answer is yes, I would get Mexico to pay, because frankly, they are taking so much money out of the United States' hide. They are taking so much money from us. That's peanuts compared to the kind of money that you're talking about. Plus, you don't need a wall for the entire piece, because we have wonderful people, border patrol people, that can do the job. But you do need walls in certain sections, without question.
You get the idea. Trump said on many times and in many different settings that he was not proposing a wall along the entire 1,954-mile border. That he would say so again today is not new.