Kyle Wingfield

Political commentary and opinion from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's conservative blogger

Top Trump aide to RNC: Don't worry, it's all an act


He gets you. He really, really gets you.

Eh, forget that. He's about to stop getting you. Or stop pretending to get you. Or start pretending he doesn't get you.

Which one is it? That's anyone's guess, but one of the top aides to Donald Trump's campaign is now on the record admitting: It's all an act. From the Washington Post , which obtained a recording of the remarks:

"Trump's chief strategist Paul Manafort told members of the Republican National Committee in a closed-door briefing (in Florida) Thursday afternoon that his candidate has been playing a 'part' on the campaign trail, but is starting to pivot toward presenting a more businesslike and presidential 'persona.'

"'He gets it,' Manafort told RNC members. 'The part that he's been playing is now evolving into the part that you've been expecting. The negatives will come down, the image is going to change, but "Crooked Hillary" is still going to be "Crooked Hillary."'"

"The RNC members laughed at Manafort's use of Trump's derogatory nickname for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. 'She is going to hate him,' Manafort said. 'And he enjoys digging it in that way.'

"Manafort argued that Clinton's negative favorability ratings are caused by 'character' issues, whereas Trump's are fueled by 'personality' concerns.

"'Fixing personality negatives is a lot easier than fixing character negatives,' Manafort said. 'You can't change somebody's character, but you can change the way a person presents himself.'"

Where to begin? Let's start with the obvious, the part about "the part." If your support for Trump is based on his willingness not to be "politically correct," well, it sounds like he's about to become more P.C. If your support is based on his not being a real politician, well, what do folks hate more about "politicians" than their phoniness, their willingness to say one thing to one group and something completely different to others? This news would seem to underscore my point the other day, that whatever you think about the issues, it's totally irrational to believe anything Trump says .

Before you object that this is more about style than substance: With Trump, the style is the substance. There is no there there. Anyone else would be embarrassed to go around revealing his utter ignorance about the issues. His utterances on various topics, when actually heard , are nothing but incoherent rambling. Not only can he not explain how he would do the few concrete things he's said he'll do, such as building a wall on the southern border and making Mexico pay for it; he doesn't even try to do so. There is nothing to Trump but his personality.

Even that has earned him the votes of less than 40 percent of GOP voters, although that may be enough to win him the nomination. Now he's going to change it, and this is supposed to be a smart move? People are supposed to believe the new Trump personality is the real one -- while the base of people who liked the old one are supposed to believe that remains the real one? Can you really "change the way a person presents himself" successfully, when the "way he presents himself" is the reason for his success?

Actually, it just might work. Voters so far have seemed nonplussed by the fact Trump's positions on the issues have changed 180 degrees from what they were, in many cases, just a few years ago -- and in some cases, days and even hours before. Who's to say the cult of personality can't simply absorb a new personality?


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About the Author

Kyle Wingfield joined the AJC in 2009. He is a native of Dalton and a graduate of the University of Georgia.