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Under Attack by Cruz, Trump Amends View on Trans People

Donald Trump

Trump added a catch to his view that transgender people should be able to use the bathroom of their choice.

Ted Cruz this morning repeatedly attacked Donald Trump for saying on Thursday that transgender people should continue using whichever bathroom they feel is appropriate.

Meanwhile, Trump is toning down his support for transgender people, saying that while he opposes discriminatory laws like those in North Carolina, "local communities and states should make the decision." Trump told Fox News's Sean Hannity that he doesn't support a federal law that would overrule the states.

Cruz compared Trump's views with those of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama -- who both also oppose laws like this in North Carolina, which bars transgender people from using the public bathroom and locker rooms that match their gender identity, if those are located in government buildings, including public schools. But both Clinton and Obama support the Equality Act now proposed in Congress. It would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

And President Obama went further than Trump today, telling reporters during a news conference in the U.K. that the law in North Carolina should be overturned.

"Donald Trump has come out for grown men going into the bathroom with little girls," Cruz said repeatedly during an impromptu press conference this morning broadcast on MSNBC.

(RELATED VIDEO: Cruz Hits Trump on Support for Trans People)

While making his transphobic argument, Cruz always says "men" and "girls" instead of men and women, underscoring his baseless portrayal of transgender people as child predators. He also attacked support for transgender people as "political correctness on steroids," implying that Trump has never been what he said he is: a straight talker.

"Donald is telling us he's lying to us," said Cruz.

Reporters to whom Cruz was talking during the campaign stop in Williamsport, Va., didn't concede that Trump's views were a negative among Republicans.

"It isn't hurting him," a reporter said. "Why don't Republican primary voters care about Trump's ideology?"

"Part of it is that they've got to hear what he's saying," Cruz said. "It's only been recent that Trump has been as explicit as he has been. In the last 48 hours, Donald Trump has come out for grown men going into the bathroom with little girls. That is political correctness on steroids. That's just silliness."

Caitlyn Jenner was pulled into the argument by the Today show, which asked whether Trump would let Jenner use the women's bathroom. Trump said he would.

Jenner had expressed admiration for Cruz during a recent interview with The Advocate, saying she'd like to set up an advisory board on transgender issues for a theoretical President Cruz, and that Jenner could become his "transgender ambassador." Jenner is a Republican and has argued the party could be changed from within.

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