Still large and in charge on the campaign trail, Donald Trump is driving home a plain-spoken message to prospective voters. But with the advent of a new phase in the present election cycle, Trump is showing signs that he might be ready to ratchet down the rhetoric and reclaim the hearts and minds of supporters who have strayed from The Donald’s proverbial bandwagon over the course of recent weeks. During the first Republican debate, Trump made the tongue-in-cheek comment that he would be known to Secret Service agents via the code name “Humble” if he made it to the office of the president. Lately, it seems as though he is making an effort to live up to that very label and get down to brass tacks as a serious candidate.
The Washington Post notes that Donald Trump’s post-debate event in Sparks, Nevada, showcased a kinder and gentler candidate, trading much of Trump’s signature bombast and rhetoric for a casual discussion of his qualifications for high office. Speaking at the Nugget Casino, Trump touted his experience as a leader and seemingly downplayed his status as a high-profile reality star.
“It’s not about being a celebrity,” Trump told supporters. “It’s about having a view that’s captivating the people in this country, because they’re tired of being taken advantage of, they’re tired of being stupid, they’re tired of having their leaders be out-negotiated on every single deal. They’re tired of it. They’re tired of having China rip us off on every trade deal — and Japan and Mexico and everybody else. They’re tired of it.”
Trump also took the unusual step of praising GOP rival Mike Huckabee for Huckabee’s defense of him during the CNBC debate earlier this week. Asked whether Trump had the “moral authority” to lead the country as president, Huckabee instead expressed goodwill for his fellow Republican.
“Actually, I’m wearing a Trump tie tonight,” Huckabee raved. “Get over that one!”
Trump expressed appreciation for Huckabee’s support during the debate and echoed these sentiments while speaking at the above-noted campaign event, describing the former Arkansas governor as a “special guy.”
Donald Trump’s apparent change of heart likely comes as the result of significant challenges to his spot as the GOP frontrunner. Ben Carson’s poll numbers have surged in Iowa polls, revealing the retired neurosurgeon as the most significant challenge to Trump’s position thus far. But while the Iowa caucuses, which are slated for February 2016, are an important indicator regarding prospective party nominees, other early primaries serve as barometers for the race ahead. And for his part, Trump maintains a commanding lead over most of his other Republican competitors.
A recent MSNBC survey indicates that Donald Trump and Ben Carson are tied at 26 percent in a survey of Republican voters. Senator ted Cruz got a slight bump after his debate performance but he remains a distant third, at best. In the same survey, 41 percent of Republicans polled said that Trump would be the best person to fix the nation’s economy based on what he had to say during the CNBC debate.
Indeed, Trump’s decision to come across as less caustic and confrontation might well trace back to his debate performances, as he clearly refrained from the kind of verbal sparring viewers witnessed in previous debates. Attacks by Ohio Governor John Kasich were largely ignored by Trump and he passed on the opportunity to smack down some of his favorite targets, including Ron Paul and Jeb Bush.
Trump’s “softer tone” seemed to resonate with his Las Vegas audience. One attendee at the rally told The Washington Post that she felt as though Trump is starting to “mellow out” and another voter told the news outlet that he wanted Trump to refrain from personal attacks in the future.
But cock-eyed optimism isn’t likely to win anyone a spot as head honcho of the world’s most powerful nation. And true to form, Donald Trump still wields his clout behind the scenes. The GOP’s top draw joined forces with Ben Carson’s campaign to press the Republican National Committee for a reevaluation of it’s debate arrangements following the CNBC debacle and late Friday, the RNC suspended its relationship with the aforementioned network and its affiliates. He also skewered CNBC and some of the moderator team from the debate in the days since that event via his favorite media platform, Twitter.
Loved doing the debate last night on @CNBC. Check out all of the polls! Everyone agrees that Harwood bombed!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 30, 2015
He also fired off a few shots against Ben Carson and John Kasich late Friday.
I am going to save Medicare and Medicaid, Carson wants to abolish, and failing candidate Gov. John Kasich doesn’t have a clue – weak!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2015
So while Trump’s tack might have changed depending on his audience and his needs at the moment, his style as a boldly irascible showman hasn’t exactly been exchanged for copious quantities of kind-hearted humility. If anything, Donald Trump has simply refined his ability evolve and roll with the punches as the long and winding road to the White House drags on.
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]