WASHINGTON, Aug. 22, 2016 – Donald Trump has rebooted his campaign, as evidenced by a series of policy speeches on the economy and security and his attacks on his Democratic opponent. The pivot began with what some saw as a sincere apology for his previous “bursts” of hyperbole.
In his remarks from North Carolina on Thursday, Trump apologized for things that “may have caused personal pain” in what may have been a true “come to Jesus” moment or, more cynically, an attempt by the Trump camp to recover disastrous polling numbers.
“Sometimes, in the heat of debate and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that. And believe it or not, I regret it. And I do regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain. Too much is at stake for us to be consumed with these issues.”
Trump’s apology is a first for the Republican nominee known for doubling down on his positions.
Anti-Trump factions from media to politicians criticized that he did not clearly explain what he was apologizing for because he did not explain what he regrets, despite the obviousness of his missteps that have been repeated in the press. The Washington Post reports that Trump’s indirect apology might be the best thing he could do.
In Oct. 21, 2015, Richard Hanania wrote in Donald Trump never apologizes for his controversial remarks. Here’s why he shouldn’t:
Here’s why Trump might be right not to apologize.
First, although apologies can help heal rifts in relationships between individuals, people may apply different standards to controversies involving public figures. Research shows that a person who backs down in a dispute becomes less likable to observers, who may want to punish that individual.
Second, overconfidence, even to the point of breaking rules, causes people to view an individual more positively, as does social risk-taking. In particular, males who show social dominance are judged more attractively as potential mates. An individual who does not back down in the face of controversy shows confidence by not giving in to social pressure, and takes a risk by refusing to follow the conventional path. Some on the right openly suggest that part of Trump’s appeal lies in his refusal to apologize and his unwillingness to be “politically correct.”
A pivot to a presidential Trump was criticized by the Clinton campaign that said Trump’s apology was just a “well-written phrase.” The campaign demanded more specifics from Trump and proof that he had changed.
“We learned tonight that his speechwriter and teleprompter knows he has much for which he should apologize,” Reynolds wrote. “But that apology tonight is simply a well-written phrase until he tells us which of his many offensive, bullying and divisive comments he regrets — and changes his tune altogether.”
Trump’s decision to apologize to his supporters comes as he reshuffled his campaign staff including new campaign manager Kellyanne Conway.
What political watchers saw last week was a campaign heading into the weeds grab a lifeline made of the issues most concerning Americans – the economy, jobs, and national security. Conway said she hopes the Clinton campaign “pivots to substance.”
“Every time she’s asked about a policy position of her own, she takes an opportunity to insult Donald Trump. She’s going to insult Donald Trump and we’ll talk directly to the voters,” Conway said. “I hope, I absolutely hope this campaign pivots to substance because we want to challenge her on the issues.”
In an interview with ABC News, Conway avoided answering questions regarding Clinton’s health, including his statements that Clinton doesn’t have the “stamina” to lead in combating ISIS. When asked to clarify whether Trump believes that Clinton lacks stamina, Conway responded with an assessment of Donald Trump’s own energy.
“What I think is that Donald Trump is very difficult to keep up with him,” she said. “It’s hard to remember he’s 70 on a daily basis. He’s more energetic than most of us on the campaign trail. And on this, Hillary Clinton routinely, including just yesterday, insults Donald Trump.”
Trump’s recent visit to Louisiana brought with it a truck of supplies — from water to cleaning supplies — for the residents attempting to rebuild after devastating rains.
It is also being reported by various sources that the candidate made a $100,000 donation during the stop. CNN’s Ashley Killough, who is covering Trump’s presidential campaign, reported the donation of cash via Twitter while vilifying the donation being given to a controversial anti-gay preacher:
Trump donated $100k to a La. church helping w/ flood relief effort, along w/ truck of supplies he helped unload Friday, per his spokeswoman
— Ashley Killough (@KilloughCNN) Aug. 21, 2016
Liberal media outlets and bloggers have largely criticized Trump for his actions in Louisiana, saying the the governor had asked him not to come, which Gov. John Bel Edwards denies:
Edwards says he appreciated the Trump/Pence efforts, including the donation of $100,000 to a Baptist church led by Pastor Tony Perkins.
Looking back four years, we might remember President Obama, then running for his second term, using his own disaster response for a positive photo op visiting Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey following a storm (Hurricane Sandy highlights how Obama and Romney respond to disasters).
The media ran with the story, alleging that Republican Christie was hugging President Obama, creating an uproar in both the media and the Republican party despite that the arm-in-arm collusion never fully developed into a hug, at least one captured by media. (Inside ‘Hug-Gate’: The Online Meme That Chris Christie Can’t Shake). It was an issue that was brought up by Sen. Rand Paul during the Republican nomination debates.
Trump’s message of unity was highlighted by his actions in Louisiana in which he showed that we “are one nation,” a message furthered by his request for African-Americans to vote for Trump in November, asking “What the hell do you have to lose?”
From the podium in Dimondale, Michigan, Trump addressed the collapse of manufacturing and criticized free trade deals before stating that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party take black voters for granted.
“You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed — what the hell do you have to lose?” Trump asked the audience in an unscripted moment from a speech in which he otherwise stuck to his teleprompter.
We are one nation. When one state hurts, we all hurt. We must all work together – to lift each other up. pic.twitter.com/XoDkW5X3Wy
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2016
While Trump has been seen moving away from his harsh message, some believe he won’t be able to stay “presidential” and fear he may return to his “no-holds-barred” messaging.
Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, promised Trump would keep to an uplifting message as election day draws close. It will take longer than a few days to find out whether Trump’s apology was sincere and whether it will help him win over undecided voters.
Tonight Trump will speak from the James A. Rhodes Arena in Akron, Ohio, and lay out his immigration policy.
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