Donald TrumpDonald TrumpSenate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Crenshaw slams House Freedom Caucus members as 'grifters,' 'performance artists' Senate confirms Biden's nominee to lead Customs and Border Protection MORE backer Sarah Palin on Thursday criticized the Republican presidential nominee's shifting rhetoric on illegal immigration, arguing an easing of his position on deporting all immigrants living in the U.S. illegally won't help him win over more supporters.
“Donald Trump understands that enforcing the laws and building that wall are paramount to what the will of the people is,” Palin said on Fox News's "The O'Reilly Factor" during an interview with guest host Eric Bolling.
"And thank God he’s still preaching that," the former Alaska governor continued, "because if he were not, then there would be a huge erosion of support.”
“Candidate Trump didn’t garner a lot of enthusiastic support by being soft on anything,” Palin maintained, adding later, "Softening on the position of illegal immigration isn't going to win over any supporters."
Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, was an early supporter of Trump's White House bid, backing him in January in the heat of the Republican primary. She has not appeared with the real estate mogul on the trail in months, and didn't appear at the GOP convention last month.
"I would prefer politicians to not campaign one way and then govern another way," Palin told Fox regarding Trump's policy on illegal immigration.
Trump told CNN on Thursday that he might deport the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally after sending mixed signals on the issue over the past week.
"If Mr. Trump were to go down a path of wishy-washy positions taken on things that the core foundation of his support has so appreciated, and that is respecting our Constitution and respecting law and order in America, then, yeah, there would be a massive disappointment," Palin said, according to The Wall Street Journal.
"Parts of the message we heard in the last week are clearly not consistent with the stringent position and message that supporters have received all along," she added.
Trump told CNN Thursday he would prioritize building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and deport "bad dudes" before deciding what to do with the millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
Asked if he'd deport someone who has lived in the country for peacefully for years, Trump responded, "There is a very good chance the answer could be yes," adding, "We're going to see what happens."