To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the old Donald Trump’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
Many pundits suggested after Trump’s speech in Charlotte Thursday night that he had been defanged. He read from a teleprompter. He didn’t say anything so offensive that it grabbed new headlines. He even said he regretted having misspoken in the past.
The Trump campaign’s new leaders, who assumed power in a staff shakeup this week, were trotting out a new Trump, the thinking goes, one who will stay on message and stop turning off a majority of the electorate.
Except, in reality, Trump wasn’t exactly cuddly.
His security staff threw out Rose Hamid, a Charlotte Muslim who was handing out flower pens and saying she comes in peace.
They also threw out Jake Anantha, an 18-year-old wearing a Trump t-shirt who said he was an avid Trump backer – until now. Trump’s people told him he was a known protester, but Anantha says it was his first Trump rally. He had no plans to protest, and in fact had planned to vote for Trump. He and his father, Ramesh, say they think Anantha was targeted because of his dark skin.
The crowd still chanted “Lock her up!” and “Build the wall!”
Trump still promised to build the wall and Rudy Giuliani, who introduced Trump, said Clinton should be convicted of racketeering.
Trump still said President Obama and Hillary Clinton unleashed ISIS on the world.
He still vowed to keep all immigrants out of the U.S. from certain countries, which happen to be mostly Muslim.
He still blamed all his troubles on the “liberal media.”
His first TV ad, released Friday after the Charlotte rally, essentially says Clinton welcomes terrorists and criminals into the United States, further stoking the fear he has ridden to this point.
Perhaps a new Trump really will emerge in the final two-plus months of the campaign. But it will take more than one merely-offensive-rather-than-maniacal speech to prove it.