Trump: The Non-Pivot Pivot

It's no surprise that Donald Trump has attempted to soften his unapologetic, distasteful character and major policy prescriptions as we close in on November.

Back at the beginning of the Paul Manafort phase in the Trump presidential story, the former campaign chairman assured Republican lawmakers in April that “the part that [Trump has] been playing is now evolving into the part that you’ve been expecting. The negatives will come down, the image is going to change.”

The promise never really materialized.

Trump did start reading from teleprompters, made actual policy speeches and tapped the temperamentally milder, policy-hard liner Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his VP choice.

That was followed by mind-boggling attacks on an American-born judge of Mexican heritage and Gold-Star parents who spoke at the Democratic National Convention about their heroic son killed in action.

With the recent appointment of Kellyanne Conway, Trump appears to have made another shift to appeal to a wider conglomeration of the Republican party. Two weeks ago, he expressed regret for some of his language that may have caused harm. Following in tune, last week he explicitly postulated a possible “softening” on immigration.



While Conway told John Dickerson on ‘Face the Nation’ yesterday that Trump has not actually changed his position on immigration, fervent Trump supporters signal a different opinion.

Mark Krikorian of the Center of Immigration Studies told The Wall Street Journal: “The fact now that [Trump] has betrayed his base on the signature issue that he ran on seems to me the death knell of his candidacy as a practical matter.” Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter also took aim at Trump’s “softening.”

As Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic put it on ‘Face the Nation,’ “His core supporters want to hear that tough, tough rhetoric, but [Trump] knows that he’s not punching through a ceiling unless he softens. And this whole week has been this vertigo-inducing kind of rhetorical spinning, trying to please all camps.”

In the end, we should have expected this change, especially since Trump recently said there was no chance of a pivot.

On  his  podcast, Dickerson nailed it: “We should have learned with Donald Trump. When he says he’s not going to pivot, as he did a couple of weeks ago -- that wasn’t a sign that he wasn’t going to pivot, it was the prelude to a pivot.

“[When Trump spoke of regret], it was a pivot, despite the fact that he said that he wasn’t going to. So just in the same way that Trump says that he’s strengthening his position on immigration, when in fact, he’s weakening it, when he says he’s going to do something, it often means that he’s going to do just the opposite.”

Trump has long been an unpredictable candidate, now he’s pushing the boundaries of logic and coherence. It is impossible to see how he can retain his base and “punch through” his demographic ceiling in the 71 days left to election day. Then again, who can ever predict anything Trump?

Next story loading loading..