Since trashing rival Ted Cruz in a concession statement following the Wisconsin primary, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has played nice on Twitter and delivered a performance that some observers thought was — by his standards — subdued at a rally.
Could this be the beginning of a more “presidential” Trump that his wife, Melania, has urged? Perhaps.
According to news accounts, Trump was a bit gentler with protesters who interrupted his rally Wednesday on Long Island. He largely stuck to his main campaign themes, although he did sprinkle in a few jabs at Cruz.
“Do you remember, during the debate, when he started to lecture me on New York values, like we’re no good?” he said. “And I started to talk to him about the World Trade Center, the bravery — the incredible bravery of everybody, the police, our firemen, everybody.”
Late-night retweets have brought plenty of criticism to the Trump campaign. But a review of Trump’s Twitter account shows he has not retweeted any incendiary comments since Wisconsin. His own tweets mainly have been vanilla. He has a few touting his rally in Bethpage, New York. Another thanked former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani for his support. A couple of others praised his new delegate hunter, Paul Manafort, for an appearance on CNN on Friday.
Speaking of Manafort, there are signs the former aide to Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan may be exerting more influence on Trump; the candidate’s toned-down messaging may stem from bringing in more traditional advisors. The New York Times reported that the Trump campaign announced an expansion of the staff after what it described as a “lengthy, and at times, tense” meeting with Trump, Manafort and campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
“He had a different campaign model and his campaign model was precipitated on the concept of mass communication, establishing who he was, and working what I consider to be a very historic approach to communication with the public, so winning was what mattered,” Manafort told the Times.
On CNN’s “New Day,” Manafort said, “I’m inheriting a great situation. All I’ve got to do is just sort of steer the ship in a little bit different direction.”
He was talking specifically about whether his long history as a political insider might undermine Trump’s anti-Establishment message. But he could have been speaking more broadly. Trump does appear to have shifted gears. He is concentrating more heavily on New York, despite polls showing him with a large lead. He canceled a news conference that had been planned for Friday at Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles.
And while two or three days is a small sample size, perhaps his new tone on Twitter signals a permanent shift. Then again, maybe Trump’s just taking a break. As former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Thursday on “The Laura Ingraham Show,” when it comes to Trump’s sharp-edged attacks on his opponents, “He can’t help himself.”