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Donald Trump refuses to release NY Times transcript, softens on immigration

On the Republican debate stage Thursday night, Republican front-runner Donald Trump declared he was "changing" his stance on immigration, and on a separate question, he admitted he talked about immigration during an off-the-record portion of an editorial board discussion with the New York Times in January.

"I am changing it and softening the position" on visas for skilled immigrant workers, Trump said in Detroit. He added that it was because "we need talented people in this country."

Previously, as Fox News host Megyn Kelly pointed out, Trump did not support increasing skilled worker visas, saying they "decimate American workers."

But on Thursday, Trump said "one of the biggest problems we have is people go to the best colleges they go to Harvard, they go to Stanford, they go to Wharton. As soon as they're finished they get shoved out. They want to stay in this country. They want to stay here desperately. They're not able to stay here. For that purposes we absolutely have to be able to keep the brain power here in this country."

When pressed about his shifting positions and whether or not he was playing to American "fantasies" about immigration, Trump responded: "I'm not playing to anybody's fantasies. I'm playing to the fact that the country's in trouble."

Trump was also questioned about an off-the-record interview with the New York Times editorial board in January, first reported by Buzzfeed News.

The conversation with the Times reportedly centered around Trump easing off his strident positions on immigration and building a wall on the U.S-Mexico.

He answered a question from Megyn Kelly about how much flexibility he'd shown to the Times editorial board on immigration.

"There is always give and take, there is always negotiation," he said. "Without give and take, you'll never agree."

Except on the transcripts. When pressed about releasing the transcripts, Trump refused.

"I think being off the record is a very important thing. I think it's a very, very powerful thing," he said. "I will say this: these three gentlemen [his remaining opponents] have gone off the record with reporters many, many times and I think they want to honor it."

He added, "I have too much respect for that process to say 'just release everything.'"