Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Donald Trump's Campaign Recasts His Image

It's like I've been saying: There's some real message discipline going on over there, and the Trump team's rejiggered the candidate's public profile.

It's working.

At WSJ, "Donald Trump, New Team Recast His TV Image":
Donald Trump installed his third leadership team at a campaign low point on Aug. 16. The next day, his new managers at a meeting in his Trump Tower office in New York suggested the Republican Party nominee visit residents suffering in the Louisiana floods.

Mr. Trump didn’t like the idea. Wouldn’t he look like he was pandering? he asked, according to advisers. And besides, he added, Louisiana wasn’t a swing state.

Newly installed campaign chief executive Stephen Bannon and campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told their new boss, basically, trust us. Mr. Trump needed to move away from a preoccupation with rallies and wall-to-wall TV interviews toward “moments,” in the new managers’ parlance, that showed him in TV newscasts as presidential, with a caring side.

The approach would give Mr. Trump a break from the media replaying unattractive off-script comments and off-putting tweets—including a few viewed as racist—that were helping widen the polling lead of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, they said. Besides, President Barack Obama was away playing golf on an island vacation.

Mr. Trump went to Louisiana the next day, Aug. 18, accompanied by running mate Mike Pence. The trip turned out successfully in Mr. Trump’s view, and cinched his ties with Mr. Bannon and Ms. Conway, shifting his campaign’s focus toward such events as a trip to a Detroit inner-city church, the meeting with Mexico’s president and a planned visit Wednesday to Flint, Mich., to speak with families hurt by tainted drinking water, campaign advisers said.

The new team, said supporters, has fostered a more disciplined candidacy.

“Actually I’m freer now, relying on my instincts and working with a team I trust,” Mr. Trump said in an interview.

His political opponents question how much has changed. Hours after his visit last month with Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto, they said, Mr. Trump delivered an immigration speech in Arizona that made even some Trump supporters cringe over its harsh tone and off-the-cuff flourishes.

“Fifty days of script can’t change 15 months of actual positions and beliefs,” said Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist and Clinton supporter. “Trump isn’t going to be able to run away from his divisive rhetoric.”

After Mrs. Clinton’s campaign announced late Sunday that she had been diagnosed with pneumonia, many expected Mr. Trump to pounce on the news, arguing that it proved his claim she lacks the stamina to be president.

Instead, Mr. Trump told campaign advisers deluged with media calls to stand down. The response struck opponents as uncharacteristic, and some supporters attributed Mr. Trump’s restraint to his new campaign organization.

Mr. Trump said efforts by previous campaign leaders to remake him into a politician were “dishonest.” And, Mr. Trump said, he resisted at times by going off script.
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