Late last week Donald Trump’s “convention manager,” or de-facto campaign manager Paul Manafort, was at a confab of Republican insiders making the claim that Trump’s politically-incorrect, street-brawler persona was nothing more than a part he was playing, and as the Republican nominee he’d be playing a different part. This came in concert with Trump’s suggesting that North Carolina’s new law on transgender bathrooms was ill-advised because of the corporate backlash and his demand to change the Republican platform to be more inclusive on abortion.
“That’s what’s important for you to understand: That he gets it, and that the part he’s been playing is evolving,” Manafort said. “The negatives are going to come down, the image is going to change, but Clinton is still going to be crooked Hillary.”
Meaning that what Trump has presented thus far is little more than a ruse to bring his gullible supporters along, and there would be a new ruse coming to add more gullible supporters. But that “crooked Hillary” would remain Trump’s core message and strategy for the general election.
Interestingly, Trump’s team didn’t seem to get Manafort’s message. Here’s what it put out as a statement last night after John Kasich announced he’d cede Indiana to Ted Cruz while focusing on Oregon and New Mexico, where he may have a better shot at knocking Trump off…
It is sad that two grown politicians have to collude against one person who has only been a politician for ten months in order to try and stop that person from getting the Republican nomination.
Senator Cruz has done very poorly and after his New York performance, which was a total disaster, he is in free fall and as everyone has seen, he does not react well under pressure. Also, approximately 80% of the Republican Party is against him. Governor Kasich, who has only won 1 state out of 41, in other words, he is 1 for 41 and he is not even doing as well as other candidates who could have stubbornly stayed in the race like him but chose not to do so. Marco Rubio, as an example, has more delegates than Kasich and yet suspended his campaign one month ago. Others, likewise, have done much better than Kasich, who would get slaughtered by Hillary Clinton once the negative ads against him begin. 85% of Republican voters are against Kasich.
Collusion is often illegal in many other industries and yet these two Washington insiders have had to revert to collusion in order to stay alive. They are mathematically dead and this act only shows, as puppets of donors and special interests, how truly weak they and their campaigns are. I have brought millions of voters into the Republican primary system and have received many millions of votes more than Cruz or Kasich. Additionally, I am far ahead of both candidates with delegates and would be receiving in excess of 60% of the vote except for the fact that there were so many candidates running against me.
Because of me, everyone now sees that the Republican primary system is totally rigged. When two candidates who have no path to victory get together to stop a candidate who is expanding the party by millions of voters, (all of whom will drop out if I am not in the race) it is yet another example of everything that is wrong in Washington and our political system. This horrible act of desperation, from two campaigns who have totally failed, makes me even more determined, for the good of the Republican Party and our country, to prevail!
Does that come off as presidential to you?
And if not, then exactly when can we expect to see this new, mature Donald Trump Manafort is advertising is just around the bend?
Manafort, of course, is just doing his job, spinning so hard it’s a wonder he hasn’t made himself dizzy. But is there really any reason to believe that a transparently shameless 69-year-old man is going to abandon the bombastic, crass, larger-than-life, persona he’s ridden to the cusp of the Republican nomination? Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio wrote that the mogul learned a clear philosophy from his father, Fred Trump: “Life is mainly combat; the law of the jungle rules; pretty much all that matters is winning or losing and rules are made to be broken.” Just how easy do you think Trump would find it to give up that Darwinian ethos?
This is who he is. There is no other, better, more appealing Trump hidden behind some curtain, waiting to be unveiled to the general electorate at just the right moment.
He always hits back twice as hard, and often below the belt, particularly in circumstances where it’s not in his long-term interest. Any cooler head would have told him not to tweet about Heidi Cruz, mock Carly Fiorina’s face or Rand Paul’s height, and compare Ben Carson to a child molester. (The latter indiscretion didn’t cost Trump the doctor’s endorsement, which says a lot about Carson.) Trump gains nothing from mocking Chris Christie as an absentee governor with Christie standing right next to him as a surrogate, grinning like an idiot. But he does it anyway, because he can, and because it amuses him. He has the impulse control of a toddler.
Trump’s going to give some prepared speeches? Big deal. There’s not much evidence that he thinks issues through, so every one of his off-the-cuff interview answers is a bomb waiting to go off. He can surprise Evangelical voters by announcing one day that he thinks transgender men should be permitted to use women’s bathrooms; embarrass pro-lifers by calling for women to be punished for seeking abortions; flail when asked about the nuclear triad; suddenly change his position on H-1B visas in a debate and then insist he meant nothing of the sort.
The media, the RNC, and Manafort may want Trump to change, but it’s not so clear his supporters want him to, and there’s little sign that he wants to.
Tuesday, five states along the eastern seaboard will hold their primary contests. Pennsylvania and Maryland might be competitive for Cruz and Kasich to hold Trump’s vote down; Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware perhaps less so. It would be a surprise for Trump to finish anywhere but first place in any of them, though, and thus there is no incentive for him to drop the bull-in-a-china-shop act – or for those of us who are appalled at his behavior to warm to him.