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7 of Donald Trump’s biggest campaign-trail flip-flops

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This post has been updated several times since it was originally written in October. 

Donald Trump flip-flopping is nothing new.

The GOP presidential front-runner has a history of changing his stances, as NBC's Chuck Todd so pointedly noted back in July. (The Fix has also documented this.)

But while many of those flips happened as Trump, over the years, transitioned from a Democrat to a Republican, they're also happening in the midst of his 2016 presidential campaign. In fact, he's made several total reversals within weeks or even days (or one day) of initially staking out a position. Often, his new position better aligns him with the conservative Republican base he's courting than his previous one.

Is Donald Trump being "flexible," or is he flip-flopping? His critics say he picks the most convenient positions, but he says he's just changing. (Video: Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)

Trump's campaign flip-flops have been so conspicuous that in Thursday's Republican debate, Fox News moderators devoted several minutes to airing news clips laying out in plain sight just how frequently Trump has changed his mind these past few months.

"How is this telling it like it is?," moderator Megyn Kelly asked.

Trump replied that he's flexible and can change his mind when presented with new evidence. That appears to have happened a lot lately. Here are seven of Donald Trump's biggest 180s so far, as explained by The Donald himself.

1. George W. Bush and Iraq

At first he said: Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction

In a Feb. 13 CBS debate, Trump was adamant the Bush administration purposefully misled the American people to get the United States to go to war with Iraq: "They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none and they knew there were none."

180: I don't know if he lied

In an interview Feb. 19 on NBC's "Today," Trump hedged on that allegation of the former president: "I don't know if he lied or not. He could have lied. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. I guess you'd have to ask him."

2. Afghanistan

At first he said: Entering Afghanistan was "a terrible mistake"

"We made a terrible mistake getting involved there in the first place," he told CNN's "New Day" on Oct. 06. He added: "At some point, are they going to be there for the next 200 years? At some point what's going on? It's going to be a long time."

180: I've never said it was a mistake

"Iraq was a disaster," he told CNN's "New Day" on Oct. 20. "Not Afghanistan, because that's probably where we should have gone in the first place."

When pressed by CNN's Alisyn Camerota on his change of position, he said: "We made a mistake going into Iraq. I've never said we made a mistake going into Afghanistan."

3. Syrian refugees

At first, he said: "You have to" accept them

"I hate the concept of it," Trump told Fox News's Bill O'Reilly on Sept. 9, "but on a humanitarian basis, you have to. ... "There's no question about it. They're living in hell, and something has to be done."

90 degrees: Focus more on our own problems

A day later, Trump told CNN after a rally on Capitol Hill against President Obama's Iran nuclear deal that the United States should probably focus on its own problems here at home rather than accept so many refugees.

"I think we should help, but I think we should be very careful because frankly, we have very big problems," he said. "We're not gonna have a country if we don't start getting smart."

180: I will send them back

Less than a month later, Trump told supporters at a campaign rally and said on Fox News that accepting the estimated 10,000 refugees President Obama has agreed to take could result in "one of the greatest military coups of all times." He suggested that the refugees would be terrorists who could strike the homeland from within and that he would send the refugees back if he became president.

"If I win, they're going back," he said.

Days after a deadly mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif.,  in December, which the FBI said was inspired by jihad, Trump went even further when he suggested a "total" ban on all Muslims entering the United States, "until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."

4. Planned Parenthood

At first, he said: "Absolutely, they should be defunded"

Those were Trump's words to Blaze TV in July shortly after an anti-abortion group released videos of officials with the nonprofit women's health-care organization talking about what to do with aborted fetal tissue. (Planned Parenthood officials maintain they did nothing wrong.)

In an Aug. 3 interview with conservative radio show host Hugh Hewitt, Trump reiterated that he supported conservatives even shutting down the government in a bid to cut off Planned Parenthood from some $500 million in public funds.

180: Keep it funded

A week and a half later, Trump told CNN he opposes taxpayer dollars going to abortions but said he'd probably keep the money flowing to Planned Parenthood because of all the  "good" things the women's nonprofit health-care clinic does.

His comment earned Trump headlines like this one below from the Daily Beast:

Trump also repeatedly slammed former Florida governor Jeb Bush for saying "I'm not sure we need half a billion dollars for women's health care."

180 again: Defund it 

When asked in a Sept. 10 interview on ABC's "The View" if he'd cut off funds for Planned Parenthood, Trump said he would: "I am against abortion ... and that is a tremendous amount of the work they do."

90 degrees: Praise Planned Parenthood

Trump hasn't changed his position to defund Planned Parenthood. But as he celebrated his seven-state win on Super Tuesday, Trump made sure to say something nice about the group.

"Look, Planned Parenthood has done very good work for many, many—for millions of women," he said, adding later "I'm going to be really good for women, I’m going to be good for women’s health issues, it’s very important to me. Very important to me."

5. Military spending

At first, he said: "I want to build up the military so nobody messes with us."

Days before the first Republican presidential primary debate in August, Trump answered critics who said he had no specific policies by saying he'd spend to rebuild the military to "its height."

180: Cut spending

Almost exactly two months later, Trump told NBC's Chuck Todd  on Oct. 4 he still believes in a strong military -- but that he'd get there by cutting funding for it. "We can do it for a lot less," he said.

"'I'm gonna build a military that's gonna be much stronger than it is right now," he said. "It's gonna be so strong, nobody's gonna mess with us. But you know what? We can do it for a lot less."

6. Going after the Islamic State

At first, he said: "I'm the most militaristic person there is."

To back up that statement, which he made in interviews with Fox News and CNN on Aug. 11 and 12, Trump noted he would "send troops in" to Iraq. He's also said he'd "bomb the hell" out of Islamic State-owned oil fields in Iraq to defeat the terrorist group and "put boots on the ground" in certain places.

180: Let Russia take over 

As the campaign went on, Trump started promoting a more non-interventionist policy in the Middle East (which more closely aligns with his general worldview).

Trump told NBC's Chuck Todd on Oct. 18 that "Everybody that's gone to the Middle East has had nothing but problems."

And he told CNN's Erin Burnett on Sept. 28 America should "let Russia fight [the Islamic State]," in Syria but added we could still fight them in Iraq. Trump declined to share details on how he'd differentiate between the two, summing up: "Let them fight it out. Let Russia take care of [Islamic State]."

7. Flat tax

At first, he said: It's fair and simple

"You can have fair tax, you can have flat tax, you can take the existing plans that we have and simplify," Donald Trump told Fox News's Steve Doocy in an Aug. 24 interview.

180: Flat taxes don't work

In that very same interview, Doocy asked Trump for specifics. Trump immediately started throwing doubt on whether a flat tax would work.

“The one problem I have with the flat tax is that rich people are paying the same as people that are making very little money," he said before promoting some kind of "graduation" tax upward. As Mediate's Alex Griswold noted, taxing based on a scale is the opposite of a flat tax.

When Trump introduced his tax plan in late September, it had no flat tax rate but rather a decline in income taxes for most Americans, as well as corporations.