Support from blacks for Donald Trump has risen a noteworthy 12 percent in the past week, according to the L.A. Times/USC Dornsife poll. As recently as August 11, Trump’s support among blacks was tracking as low as 2.5 percent.
So what changed?
Apparently, The Donald’s tone in his campaign speeches has changed. Instead of his usual off-the-cuff, somewhat rambling style, he’s been turning out strong, straightforward messages that are once again beginning to resonate with everyday Americans.
At a speech Tuesday in Milwaukee, just a couple of days after violent rioting had occurred just a few miles away, Trump strode to the podium and delivered this no-nonsense law-and-order message:
“We reject the bigotry of Hillary Clinton which panders to and talks down to communities of color and sees them only as votes, not as individual human beings worthy of a better future. She doesn’t care at all about the hurting people of this country, or the suffering she has caused them. The African-American community has been taken for granted for decades by the Democratic Party. It’s time to break with the failures of the past – I want to offer Americans a new future.”
Then there was this:
“The main victims of these riots are law-abiding African-American citizens living in these neighborhoods. It is their jobs, their homes, their schools and communities which will suffer as a result. There is no compassion in tolerating lawless conduct. Crime and violence is an attack on the poor, and will never be accepted in a Trump Administration.”
There’s every indication that this change of course and presentation of the wiser, more statesmanlike Trump is intentional. Trump on Thursday explained to an audience that he knows he has sometimes let his mouth get the better of him, and he actually apologized.
“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. I have done that, and believe it or not I regret it,” Trump said. “I do regret it particularly where it may have caused personal pain.”
Normally, an apology from a politician isn’t worth the spit it required to say it. But in Trump’s case, precisely because he is only newly a politician and has seldom if ever shown any regret for anything, the mea culpa will come across to a lot of people as sincere.
This week, he has also been effectively demonstrating the difference between himself, his Democratic rival and the current failed president.
You may have heard there’s some flooding going on in Louisiana this week that makes Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath look almost mild in comparison. Unlike when President Bush was in charge and getting blamed for the failures of Louisiana’s Democratic governor, the media don’t seem the least bit concerned that President Obama, rather than doing anything about a natural disaster that has killed 13 and driven more than 30,000 people from their homes, is golfing in Martha’s Vineyard, with no plans to disrupt his oh-so-needed vacay.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is “resting” due to her allegedly nonexistent health problems and won’t go anywhere or hold any events until Sunday, when she will run to Massachusetts to hold a fundraiser with Cher.
Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence, on the other hand, will be in Baton Rouge today, where common folks have pitched in to help flood victims with their volunteer Cajun Navy. While two guys won’t be able to make much of a physical difference, even if one of them is Trump, you can expect that the appearance of the possible future president will make a huge morale difference to the thousands of people who right now are feeling like their government has abandoned them.
Strategy-wise, this new path Trump is taking is a smart move. But it’s more than that. Trump is rising to the challenge of what will be expected of him if he wins the presidency — and he’s doing it not by pollsters and campaign advisers, but by running as himself.
Trump’s biggest strength has also been at times his biggest liability — his personal, folksy touch and tendency to speak extemporaneously, off the top of his head. His natural showmanship has led many people to question whether he could be serious enough to be president.
If he continues as he has been doing this week, though, it’s a whole new ballgame. This is the time for people to see that Trump isn’t just a businessman with big hair, but that he also has a big brain, heart and shoulders to match.