GOP presidential front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpYoungkin ad features mother who pushed to have 'Beloved' banned from son's curriculum White House rejects latest Trump claim of executive privilege Democrats say GOP lawmakers implicated in Jan. 6 should be expelled MORE on Thursday said North Carolina is "paying a big price" for a controversial bathroom law that has been blasted by LGBT advocates, adding that officials should just "leave it the way it is."
Trump said the state unnecessarily mandated that transgender people use public restrooms that correspond with their biological gender, adding that transgender people should use whatever bathroom they want.
Trump was asked during a town hall interview on NBC's "Today" show whether he would let Caitlyn Jenner, a transgender woman, walk into Trump Tower and use any bathroom that she wanted.
"That is correct," Trump responded.
"North Carolina did something. It was very strong. And they're paying a big price. And there's a lot of problems," Trump said.
"North Carolina, what they're going through with all the business that is leaving and strife — and it's on both sides — you leave it the way it is."
"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," Trump said.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) earlier this month signed an executive order partially amending the measure blocking protections for LGBT people after backlash from businesses.
The order expanded state employment policy to include sexual orientation and gender identify, affirming the ability of local government and businesses to implement their own nondiscrimination policies, but it left the new mandate intact for transgender people using public restrooms.
The legislation was passed in an effort to prevent cities and counties from passing their own nondiscrimination ordinances after Charlotte approved an ordinance allowing transgender people to use bathrooms that corresponded with their sexual identity.
"The problem with what happened in North Carolina is the strife and the economic punishment they're taking," Trump said Thursday.
Trump also noted that "there is a big move to create new bathrooms" for transgender people.
"I think that would be discriminatory in a certain way. It would be unbelievably expensive for businesses and the country. Leave it the way it is."
A McCrory aide later fired back at Trump while defending the governor’s support of the law.
"Governor McCrory has always said that North Carolina was getting along fine before the Charlotte city council passed its unneeded and overreaching ordinance," McCrory campaign spokesman Ricky Diaz said in a statement.
"Now that it has been overturned, businesses can adopt their own policies - like Target has - instead of being mandated to allow men into women's restrooms by government," the spokesman said.
"Where the governor disagrees with Mr. Trump is that bathroom and shower facilities in our schools should be kept separate and special accommodations made when needed. It's just common sense."
--This report was updated at 11:46 a.m.