Every time Trump has given a speech after a big primary night, he has talked about everyone now coming together. He has name checked Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and others.
The Branch Trumpidians on TV have used each of these occasions to say that Trump is suddenly becoming more Presidential. He is now trying to look like a leader. He realizes the bombast could only go so far.
In fact, in Gabe Sherman’s piece at New York magazine Sherman notes,
To break out of the pack, he made what appears to be a deliberate decision to be provocative, even outrageous. “If I were totally presidential, I’d be one of the many people who are already out of the race,” Trump told me. And so, Trump openly stoked racial tensions and appealed to the latent misogyny of a base that thinks of Hillary as the world’s most horrible ballbuster.
But then there have been the last three week. Trump was pretty regularly winning. He was giving his victory speeches talking about the party coming together. Then? Then back to the old Trump even in what is now a three man race. As Ben Domenech wrote this morning in his always excellent Transom:
Internally, following back to back weeks for a campaign whose candidate has stepped in it again and again, the Trump camp is furious at their critics and clinging to irrelevant national tracking polls.…
Trump could have been using these past two weeks to coalesce his support and undermine the anti-Trump forces by offering carefully crafted speeches and reassuring Republican voters on key issues.
Trump has not done that. Now in a three man race and the front runner, Trump is not looking Presidential, but out of his depth. On both issues and how the Republican process works, Trump looks ignorant. He is complaining about delegates and his surrogates are suggesting Ted Cruz is stealing victory. Actually, Cruz is using the process to his advantage and Trump flailing about. In under forty-eight hours, Trump took five positions on abortion then attacked everyone who pointed out he was shallow.
At the same time, he refused to answer whether he’d dated anyone who had had an abortion — this from the guy who answers every question and tells you everything. That hurt him more than his campaign team even now realizes.
Trump has not pivoted because he is incapable of the pivot. All the people who have been reassuring themselves that Trump would become Presidential and mature on the campaign trail are just deluding themselves.
There will be no pivot. What you see is what you get. And what you get is going to lose.