JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Thursday that transgender people should be able to use whichever bathroom they choose, voicing opposition to part of a far-reaching North Carolina law that critics says is discriminatory.
Speaking at a town hall event on NBC's "Today" Thursday, Trump was asked about North Carolina's so-called "bathroom law," which, among other things, requires transgender people to use bathrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate in state government buildings as well as public schools and universities.
Trump said the law had caused unnecessary strife for the state, which he said had paid "a big price" economically.
"There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate," said Trump. "There has been so little trouble."
Trump's main rival, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, immediately fired back, saying that Trump is giving in to "political correctness."
"Donald Trump is no different from politically correct leftist elites. Today, he joined them in calling for grown men to be allowed to use little girls' public restrooms," Cruz said in an interview with Glenn Beck on Thursday. "As the dad of young daughters, I dread what this will mean for our daughters - and for our sisters and our wives. It is a reckless policy that will endanger our loved ones."
"The idea that grown men would be allowed alone in a bathroom with little girls… you don't need to be a behavioral psychologist to realize bad things can happen and any prudent person wouldn't allow that," Cruz added later.
After the North Carolina law was signed in late March, Deutsche Bank halted plans to add 250 North Carolina jobs, while PayPal reversed a decision to open a 400-employee operation center in Charlotte. Local tourism boards have also said they've lost millions of dollars thanks to cancelled conventions and business meetings.
Big-name acts like Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr and Pearl Jam have also cancelled upcoming concerts in the state in response to the law. In the political sphere, both New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy placed non-essential travel bans to the state in light of the ruling.
The comments came as Trump drew closer to clinching the Republican nomination with a big win in his home state of New York earlier this week. If he becomes his party's nominee, Trump is likely to face pressure to moderate some of his stances to appeal to independents and women in the general election.
Trump said at the town hall that he didn't know if any transgender people work for his organization, but said that some "probably" did. Asked about Caitlyn Jenner, an Olympic gold medal winner then-known as Bruce Jenner, walking into Trump Tower using the bathroom, he said would be fine with her using any bathroom she chooses.
"I like Ted Cruz. I think he's very conservative and a great constitutionalist and a very articulate man," she said. "I haven't endorsed him or anything like that. But I also think, he's an evangelical Christian, and probably one of the worst ones when it comes to trans issues."
Trump said he's opposed to efforts to create new, transgender bathrooms alongside single gendered ones, calling that push "discriminatory in a certain way" and "unbelievably expensive for businesses and the country."
(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
for more features.