Just three days ago, Donald Trump told a CBS affiliate in Wisconsin, “I don’t want to change … I don’t want to pivot. I mean, you have to be you. If you start pivoting, you’re not being honest with people.”
Then, at a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Thursday night, Trump read from a teleprompter for the third time this week and declared for the first time that he has some regrets. Politico called it one of the “most comprehensive, on-message rationales for his candidacy to date,” and proclaimed that Trump had finally pivoted, albeit “107 days late.”
Trump did say he has “regret” for having “caused personal pain,” which is surprising coming from a man who has repeatedly insisted that he has no remorse for insulting Senator John McCain, a disabled reporter, the parents of a dead war hero, and many others. But it’s unclear what he feels bad about. Trump said:
As you know, I am not a politician. I have worked in business, creating jobs and rebuilding neighborhoods my entire adult life. I’ve never wanted to learn the language of the insiders, and I’ve never been politically correct — it takes far too much time, and can often make more difficult.
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.
But one thing I can promise you is this: I will always tell you the truth.
I speak the truth for all of you, and for everyone in this country who doesn’t have a voice.
This was the first speech Trump delivered since his campaign shake-up earlier this week. His new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said earlier in the day that the shift is about “pivoting stylistically,” not on substance.
Indeed, Trump’s speech was more organized, but he hasn’t dropped the grand, vague promises that are his trademark. For instance, he still promised that if elected, “chaos and violence on our streets” and the attacks on law enforcement “will end — and it will end very quickly” but did not elaborate.
Trump alluded again to the “silent majority” making a comeback, but this time, there was a new flourish:
These are the forgotten men and women in our society, and they are angry at so much on so many levels. The poverty, the unemployment, the failing schools, the jobs moving to other countries.
I am fighting for these forgotten Americans.
So again, it’s not about me. It’s never been about me. It’s about all the people in this country who don’t have a voice.
The man who declared “I alone can fix it” at the Republican National Convention is now echoing another acceptance speech, from 2008, in which Senator Barack Obama declared, “What the naysayers don’t understand is that this election has never been about me; it’s about you.”
Trump also reached out to minority voters, promising to “reject the bigotry of Hillary Clinton, which sees communities of color only as votes and not as human beings worthy of a better future.”
If African-American voters give Donald Trump a chance by giving me their vote, the result for them will be amazing. Look at how badly things are going under decades of Democratic leadership — look at the schools, look at the 58 percent of young African-Americans not working. It is time for change.
What do you have to lose by trying something new? — I will fix it.
New York’s Ed Kilgore wrote earlier this week that it seems Trump’s new appeal to African Americans is actually “aimed at white voters worried (or angry) about being labeled as racists.” But if he is actually trying to turn things around with minority voters, he needs to tell his security guards. As CBS News reports, two people with darker skin were ejected from the rally before Trump began speaking, though they didn’t appear to be doing anything disruptive. One was a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf, and the other was Jake Anantha, a fervent Trump supporter. “I do think it’s because I’m brown. There’s no denying that,” said the 18-year-old, who was wearing several pro-Trump shirts. He said as a lifelong Republican he doesn’t think he could vote Democrat, but the incident “makes me kind of think about maybe not supporting Trump himself.”