BUT CAN HE STAY THERE?
In his first major campaign address since shaking up his staff for the second time in as many months, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump sounded a decidedly different, less defiant tone.
It wasn’t exactly “compassionate conservatism,” but the brash billionaire – delivering prepared remarks from a teleprompter in Charlotte, N.C. – did manage to stay on message during his speech.
Trump didn’t apologize for some of the comments that have landed his candidacy in hot water in recent weeks, but he did – for the first time ever – acknowledge the limits of his political incorrectness.
“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,” Trump said. “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.”
While Trump offered this modest mea culpa for some of his prior statements, he pulled no punches in his assessment of his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
Repeatedly during his speech, Trump portrayed Clinton as an insider whose mistakes “destroy innocent lives, sacrifice national security, and betray the working families of this country.”
“There’s a reason the hedge fund managers, the financial lobbyists, the Wall Street investors, are throwing their money at Hillary Clinton,” he said. “Because they know she will make sure the system stays rigged in their favor. It’s the powerful protecting the powerful. The insiders fighting for the insiders.”
Trump laid out familiar policy differences with Clinton – on trade, immigration, security, education, health care and the economy. He also offered up some new anti-corruption ideas in an effort to draw attention to Clinton’s rash of scandals.
“On political corruption, we are going to restore honor to our government,” Trump said. “In my administration, I am going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information. No one will be above the law.”
Trump added that his administration would “forbid senior officials from trading favors for cash by preventing them from collecting lavish speaking fees through their spouses when they serve.”
That’s a clear shot at the corruption associated with the Clinton foundation, which appears to have operated as a pay-to-play wing of the U.S. State Department during Clinton’s tenure there from 2009-13.
The media – which has been on an anti-Trump jihad since the conventions – seemed impressed.
“Killer Trump speech containing empathy, regret, strength and cutting change contrast with Hillary,” U.S. News and World Report’ David Catanese tweeted.
Trump seems to be back on message … but can he stay there?
We’ll see …