Trump's Non-Apology Is Being Spun As His Latest Presidential Pivot

Media again hyped a “pivot” and a “new tone” for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump after he said in a speech read off of a teleprompter that he “regret[ed]” “sometimes … say[ing] the wrong thing” and using rhetoric that “may have caused personal pain.” Trump gave the speech hours after his spokesperson suggested that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton might have a language disorder caused by brain damage.

Trump Expresses “Regret” For “Sometimes" Saying "The Wrong Thing” Shortly After His Spokesperson Accused Hillary Clinton Of Suffering From Brain Damage

NY Times: Donald Trump Expressed “Regret” For Some Of His Past Rhetoric. The New York Times reported that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump “expressed regret” in a “rare display of contrition” following the shake-up of his campaign leadership this week, adding that “in his speech, which he read off a teleprompter, he did not specify what he regretted” and noting that Trump “has at times sounded restrained” only to regress back to “his more pugilistic nature.” From the August 18 article:

Donald J. Trump on Thursday expressed regret for making statements that have “caused personal pain,” a rare display of contrition that followed the shake-up of his campaign’s leadership this week.

“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 believe it or not, I regret it.”

The crowd gathered at a convention center here responded by chanting Mr. Trump’s name, and he gave them a thumbs-up.

“And I do regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain,” Mr. Trump added. “Too much is at stake for us to be consumed with these issues.”

Mr. Trump’s statement of regret, in a prepared speech in which he spoke of a “New American Future,” seemed to be a step toward trying to recover from a number of public quarrels and other episodes that have damaged his campaign, including a dispute with the family of an American Muslim soldier who was killed in Iraq.

But in his speech, which he read off a teleprompter, he did not specify what he regretted, offer specific apologies or linger on the subject. In his campaign, Mr. Trump has at times sounded restrained and on-message, only to quickly revert to his more pugilistic nature. [The New York Times, 8/18/16]

Wash. Post: Trump Campaign Spokesperson Alleged Thursday That Clinton Suffers From A Language Disorder. The Washington Post reported that Trump campaign spokeswoman Katrina Pierson alleged that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s health is “something that needs to be addressed” during an appearance on MSNBC. The Post explained that “Pierson's dysphasia diagnosis is clearly part of a cynical effort to raise questions about Clinton's health,” despite Clinton’s doctors’ acknowledgement that “she's healthy and that the conspiracy theories are bogus.” From the August 18 article:

The Trump campaign's concerted effort to pump up questions about Hillary Clinton's health using innuendo and unfounded speculation now includes an official diagnosis: dysphasia.

A spokeswoman alleged Thursday that Clinton suffers from the language disorder, with which she has never been diagnosed. Katrina Pierson, whose command of the facts has been seriously called into question in recent weeks, appeared on MSNBC to answer questions about why the Trump campaign is going down this road, even as Clinton's doctors say she's healthy and that the conspiracy theories are bogus.

Pierson argued: “What's new are the other reports of the observations of Hillary Clinton's behavior and mannerisms, specifically with what you just showed in those previous clips, as well as her dysphasia, the fact that she's fallen, she has had a concussion.”

“It's something that needs to be addressed,” Pierson continued. “She's taken a lot of time off the campaign trail.”

Dysphasia is defined as the “loss of or deficiency in the power to use or understand language as a result of injury to or disease of the brain.” And Pierson isn't the first to allege that Clinton has it. A doctor appearing on Sean Hannity's Fox News show last week suggested that Clinton might have “aphasia,” which is synonymous with dysphasia.


While that was so ridiculous as to be laughable, Pierson's dysphasia diagnosis is clearly part of a cynical effort to raise questions about Clinton's health — an effort that is taking place outside the bounds of what's generally been acceptable in a presidential campaign. [The Washington Post, 8/18/16]

Media Attempt To Spin Trump’s Non-Apology As A Presidential Pivot

Fox & Friends: Donald Trump “Completed His Pivot To The General Election.” On Fox News’ Fox and Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade called Trump’s speech “groundbreaking” and said, “I don’t think there’s any question” that it was one of the best speeches Trump has given. Fox correspondent John Roberts reported that “last night in Charlotte, [Trump] completed his pivot to the general election.” From the August 19 edition of Fox News’ Fox and Friends:

ANNA KOOIMAN (CO-HOST): Donald Trump somewhat apologizing to those whose feelings he may have hurt in the course of his campaign.

STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): The speech, different than what we’re all used to hearing, but some say it was one of the best speeches Donald Trump has ever given.

BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): I don’t think there’s any question. Fox News senior national correspondent John Roberts has seen just about every one of his speeches. He’s live in New York City to reflect. John, are we overstating it to think that this is really groundbreaking?

JOHN ROBERTS: Good morning, Brian, Anna, and Steve. I actually tweeted out last night I thought it was the best speech that he's given.


Being Donald Trump used to mean never having to say you’re sorry, but last night in Charlotte, he completed his pivot to the general election campaign, saying to the people that he has either harshly criticized or insulted, “I’m sorry.” [Fox News, Fox and Friends, 8/19/16]

MSNBC’s Morning Joe: “Trump Last Night Was Just A Complete Reversal Of Just About Everything He’s Been.” On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, co-host Joe Scarborough said of Trump’s speech, “Wow. Wow. You have the reset button ready? Reset,” and he concluded that Trump’s speech “was just a complete reversal of just about everything he's been.” From the August 19 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe:

JOE SCARBOROUGH (CO-HOST): Wow. Wow. You have the reset button ready? Reset.


It was a speech like no other speech. This -- sort of the pregame was Kellyanne Conway going on Hardball and actually doing a pretty extraordinary job. I mean, I’ve known Kellyanne Conway for 20 years. I’ve never seen her do as well as she did last night in the toughest of circumstances. As far as spin and as far as handling political incoming, that was a tour de force. And then Trump last night was just a complete reversal of just about everything he's been.

KATTY KAY (CO-HOST): Yeah. That’s the kind of Trump that will make the Clinton campaign wake up and say this race is not over yet. We still have three months to go. [MSNBC, Morning Joe, 8/19/16]

CNN’s Early Start: “New Trump” Said “Something I Think Six Months Ago We Never Thought We Would Have Seen.” Christine Romans, co-host of CNN’s Early Start, said Trump’s speech showed a “new Trump” and that his statement that “there are things that he regrets” is “something I think six months ago we never thought we would have seen.” Guest host George Howell added, “The word ‘regrets,’ opening the door and a pivot, you could say, toward the general.” From the August 19 edition of CNN’s Early Start:

CHRISTINE ROMANS (CO-HOST): Let's talk politics with CNN politics reporter Eugene Scott to help us figure out the new Trump. Here you have a scripted moment from Donald Trump where he says there are things that he regrets, something I think six months ago we never thought we would have seen. But at the same time, he is still hitting that other note. Hillary is dishonest., Hillary is dishonest.


ROMANS: The headline this morning, the new Trump. The admission that there are things he regrets, but he also is on the attack here.

EUGENE SCOTT: Yeah, no, this is not insignificant. I remember last summer writing the story about Donald Trump admitting that he doesn't even seek forgiveness from God, so him saying “I have regrets” and using language saying “I have said the wrong things” is significant. But Kellyanne Conway, his new campaign manager, gave us a hint yesterday on New Day that we would be seeing some shifts and we would see some changes.


GEORGE HOWELL (GUEST CO-HOST): So the word “regrets,” opening the door and a pivot, you could say, toward the general, toward women, toward other groups that may see this as a softer Donald Trump. [CNN, Early Start, 8/19/16]

CBS This Morning: Trump’s Speech “May Indicate A Change In Approach.” CBS’s Margaret Brennan reported that Trump’s “statement to supporters last night was also a message to voters who were offended or hurt, and it may indicate a change in approach.” CBS correspondent Dean Reynolds added that “there was an unquestionably softer tone to Donald Trump's remarks” and that Trump struck “a noticeably more inclusive tone.” From the August 19 edition of CBS This Morning:

MARGARET BRENNAN: Donald Trump now says that some of his campaign rhetoric was a mistake. His statement to supporters last night was also a message to voters who were offended or hurt, and it may indicate a change in approach after bringing on a new campaign manager and CEO. Dean Reynolds is in Charlotte where he covered that Trump rally. Dean, good morning.

DEAN REYNOLDS: Good morning. Well, there was an unquestionably softer tone to Donald Trump's remarks here in Charlotte last night. There were kind words for the victims of the Louisiana floods, who he'll be visiting later on today. There was a promise never to lie to voters, and there was one more element to his remarks. It was almost startling: an expression of regret.


Striking a noticeably more inclusive tone, Trump made a direct appeal to African-Americans, who have long favored the Democratic Party. [CBS, CBS This Morning, 8/19/16]

Fox’s Chris Stirewalt: Trump “Expressing Regret” Was “A Signal Moment.” On Fox News’ The Kelly File, Chris Stirewalt told guest host Martha MacCallum that Trump’s speech in Charlotte, NC, where he “almost said that he was sorry,” was “a signal moment, and if he keeps that up he can improve these dire polls that he's swimming under.” From the August 18 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:

MARTHA MACCALLUM (GUEST HOST): What we heard from [Trump] over the past few days before this campaign shake-up, Chris, was largely “I'm going to let, you know, Trump be Trump.” Right? “I'm going to be myself.” It was a little bit of sort of an arrogance to that message. I'm going out the way I came in, and this is who I am. But tonight -- and Michael Goodwin wrote an interesting editorial about this in the Post today, basically saying, look, if that's what you're going to do and you're going to forget all those people who came out, who say they never voted in their lives and showed up to see you, in Manchester and Iowa and everywhere else, that's not a very good plan. What do you think?

CHRIS STIREWALT: Look I think the most important thing he did in the speech tonight was to use the word regret. One of the things that got him off on the wrong footing with a lot of voters was when he said he never asked for forgiveness in his life except for when he drank a little wine and ate the little cracker. The deal for him was expressing regret for hurting people's feelings. He didn't say he was wrong, he just said that he was sorry -- almost said that he was sorry. That's important for politicians to do. It's especially important for a politician who's widely perceived as being too arrogant. So that was a signal moment, and if he keeps that up he can improve these dire polls that he's swimming under. [Fox News, The Kelly File, 8/18/16]

Wash. Examiner: Trump’s Speech “Suggested A Candidate Willing To Take A New Approach To The Formidable Problems He Faces In This Race.” In an article headlined “From Donald Trump, a stunning admission and a new direction,” the Washington Examiner’s Byron York wrote that Trump’s speech “suggested a candidate willing to take a new approach” and concluded that the candidate who spoke last night was a “new Trump. Very new Trump.” From the August 18 article:

In general, in a campaign filled with controversial statements, it's fair to say Donald Trump doesn't do apologies and he doesn't do regret. Which is why it was extraordinary that in his speech in Charlotte Thursday night — one of his first under a new campaign management — Trump did that rarest of things: he expressed regret for rhetorical excesses of the past and conceded that they may have caused pain for some people.


That was new Trump. Very new Trump.


Among other things, the North Carolina speech defied expectations set by some of the reporting on the recent changes at the top of the Trump campaign. Some press accounts suggested that Trump's decision to bring in Breitbart executive Steve Bannon and to promote pollster Kellyanne Conway somehow amounted to an effort to return to the old Trump of the Republican primaries. The original wild man so beloved by a winning margin of GOP voters would come back.

That's not at all what has happened so far. Trump's speech in Charlotte suggested a candidate willing to take a new approach to the formidable problems he faces in this race. Perhaps the old Trump will come roaring back at any moment. But Trump in Charlotte was something entirely new. [Washington Examiner, 8/18/16]

The Daily Caller’s Vince Coglianese: “If We’ve Been Waiting For A Pivot, This Week Is The One You Should Mark On The Calendar.” On Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, Daily Caller executive editor Vince Coglianese told co-host Martha MacCallum that “if we’ve been waiting for a pivot, this week is the one you should mark on the calendar,” adding, “He’s been both on script, yet more Donald Trump.” From the August 19 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom:

MARTHA MACCALLUM (CO-HOST): In terms of the Trump campaign this week, Vince, question for you. It’s been sort of a very different six or seven days. We’ve seen a campaign shake-up, we’ve seen a number of speeches, and now this visit. What are you sensing about the changes in the Trump campaign?

VINCE COGLIANESE: Well, if we’ve been waiting for a pivot, this week is the one you should mark on the calendar, because Donald Trump has given a series of very well-received speeches, hardly the same mistakes that we've seen in the past out of Donald Trump. He's been both on script, yet more Donald Trump, right? He's on the teleprompter, but he sounds more like himself. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 8/19/16]

ABC’s Good Morning America: Trump Is “Striking A Bit Of A New Tone.” On ABC’s Good Morning America, host David Muir said Trump is “striking a bit of a new tone,” and reporter Tom Llamas added, “This Trump” is “a stark difference” from the more controversial Trump. From the August 19 edition of ABC’s Good Morning America:

DAVID MUIR (HOST): Now, to the race for the White House here this morning, and Donald Trump striking a bit of a new tone overnight, expressing regret in his words over some of his comments and announcing that he's heading to Louisiana to meet with communities affected by the devastating floods this morning.


TOM LLAMAS: This Trump? A stark difference from the man who has attacked a Gold Star family. [ABC, Good Morning America, 8/19/16]

NBC’s Today: “Donald Trump Sound[ed] Strikingly More Humble.” On NBC’s Today, Hallie Jackson reported that Trump sounded “strikingly more humble” in his Charlotte speech, in which he gave a “rare admission of regret, about as close to an apology as he’s ever gotten.” From the August 19 edition of NBC’s Today Show:

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE (HOST): Well, now we move to the presidential election race. In a rare admission from Donald Trump, the Republican nominee expressing regret for the first time during the campaign for some of the divisive comments he’s made along the way. NBC’s Hallie Jackson is in Charlotte, where Trump had a rally last night. Hey, Hallie. Good morning.

HALLIE JACKSON: Hi, Savannah, good morning. For Donald Trump and his running mate from Charlotte to Baton Rouge, the two will be making an unexpected stop in Louisiana to tour the flood damage there. It’s not the only surprise from Trump. As you mentioned, it’s something we’ve almost never heard from him, this rare admission of regret, about as close to an apology as he’s ever gotten. Donald Trump sounding strikingly more humble in Charlotte. [NBC, Today, 8/19/16]

US News David Catanese: “Wow Trump Now Admitting He Sometimes Chooses Wrong Words & Say The Wrong Thing. ‘And Believe It Or Not, I Regret It.’ #PIVOT.”

[Twitter, 8/18/16]

Politico’s Matthew Nussbaum On “Trump’s Prepared Remarks”: “Kellyanne Conway Bringing The Pivot At Long Last?”

[Twitter, 8/18/16]