New York Times
By Maggie Haberman
August 19, 2016
Donald J. Trump went Thursday night where Donald J. Trump, the candidate, seemed to have never gone before: He expressed broad regret about some of his caustic language during the campaign.
Precisely which words does Mr. Trump regret? He did not specify. But his speech in Charlotte, N.C., his third using a teleprompter this week, was praised by some of his critics as the best of his campaign.
“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,” Mr. Trump said. “I have done that, and I regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain. Too much is at stake for us to be consumed with these issues.”
Mr. Trump has prided himself on never acknowledging regret, even when he attacked the parents of a fallen American Muslim soldier after they criticized him at the Democratic National Convention. “But one thing I can promise you is this: I will always tell you the truth,” he added.
On Twitter, users were gobsmacked that Mr. Trump had acknowledged doing anything wrong. Hillary Clinton’s aides pounced on the speech, trying to disabuse anyone of the idea that this could mean a “new” version of Mr. Trump.
Indeed, he has tried to pivot before, only to revert to form soon after. And this version of Mr. Trump came after he brought on Stephen K. Bannon, a flame-throwing nationalist and executive of Breitbart News, as campaign chief.
But the soothing words of Thursday’s speech were more reflective of Kellyanne Conway, the newly promoted campaign manager with whom Mr. Trump has worked for years.
Mr. Trump spoke about a “New American Future,” a line similar to the “New American Century” that Marco Rubio heralded during the Republican primary. Elections are about the future, not the past, and Mr. Trump often dwells on a bygone era when he says he believes life was better in the United States.
“What do you have to lose by trying something new?” he asked specifically of black voters, with whom he is polling at a dismal 1 percent in some surveys.
Still, Mr. Trump invoked the touchstones of his campaign, including a restrictive immigration policy that would primarily affect Muslims. He is set to begin airing his first general election ads on Friday. And it will be hard for him to undo 14 months of a slashing, aggressive tone that polls show has alienated a wide portion of the electorate.
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