Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump criticized Hillary Clinton during a speech in New York Wednesday. Time
Donald Trump speaks at Trump SoHo Hotel on June 22, 2016.(Photo: Drew Angerer, Getty Images)
Meet Donald Trump 2.0.
After squandering the seven weeks since he clinched the Republican nomination, Trump is moving<span style="color: Red;">*</span>to reboot a presidential campaign that has faltered<span style="color: Red;">*</span>on everything from money and message to ads and organization. He's shaking up his staff, launching a rapid-response operation, focusing on fundraising and even used<span style="color: Red;">*</span>a teleprompter (the better to stick to the script) as he delivered a broadside<span style="color: Red;">*</span>slamming Hillary Clinton as corrupt and incompetent.
"Hillary Clinton may be the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency," he declared Wednesday, sparking a standing ovation among supporters seated on velvet purple chairs<span style="color: Red;">*</span>in a ballroom at the Trump SoHo Hotel in New York.<span style="color: Red;">*</span>He called the presumptive Democratic nominee "a world-class liar."
Amid campaign troubles, Trump blasts Clinton as 'world-class liar'
While his words were as inflammatory as ever, his tone<span style="color: Red;">*</span>was more deliberate, his targets more strategic<span style="color: Red;">*</span>and his overall message more coherent than the rambling remarks at rallies that have marked his campaign over the past year, though he still made some disputed and inaccurate assertions. He portrayed the election as a choice between change versus more of the same, the theme helped elect Bill Clinton in 1992 and Barack Obama in 2008. And he ticked off the economic and other grievances that have created the opening among disenchanted voters<span style="color: Red;">*</span>for his unconventional candidacy.
Trump's belated scramble to build a nationwide campaign organization, raise millions of dollars and stay on message will surely be tested in the next few weeks. But if he succeeds, the pivot to a more competitive campaign will have started this week.
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And not a moment too soon: The Republican National Convention opens in Cleveland in 26 days.
Trump's decision to fire campaign manager Corey Lewandowski Monday and to adopt some of the fundamentals of modern presidential campaigns — after all, carefully delivering a prepared speech isn't exactly a revolutionary notion<span style="color: Red;">*</span>— may help quiet growing alarm within the GOP over Trump's course. At the least, he may have stopped providing fuel for the #NeverTrump forces that hope against the odds<span style="color: Red;">*</span>to deny him the nomination.
Trump's speech focused on the one thing that unites Republicans: opposition to Clinton.
He repeated a litany of accusation<span style="color: Red;">*</span>and innuendo, holding her responsible for unrest in the Middle East, the rise of Islamic State terrorists and the deaths of four Americans in a 2012<span style="color: Red;">*</span>attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. He said she was part of a "rigged system" that had sent manufacturing jobs overseas. And he suggested China and other adversaries might well have "a blackmail file" to use against her, obtained by<span style="color: Red;">*</span>hacking the private email server she used as secretary of State.
5 most explosive attacks Trump leveled against Clinton
Clinton responded a few hours later, at a campaign rally in Raleigh, N.C.
"He's going after me personally because he no answers on the substance," she said to cheers, specifically countering some of his statements, including an attack on the Clinton Global Foundation. "We can't let Donald Trump bankrupt America the way he bankrupt his casinos. We need to write a new chapter in the American dream,<span style="color: Red;">*</span>and it can't be Chapter 11."
Both candidates would like the election to be a referendum on their opponent, a reflection of the record-high negative ratings that dog each of them.
Hillary Clinton speaks during a rally in Raleigh, N.C., on June 22, 2016.<span style="color: Red;">*</span>(Photo: Chuck Burton, AP)
Clinton continues to have some big advantages, including a nationwide campaign organization that is 10 times the size of Trump's team. She has 30 times more money than he does in the bank. Pro-Clinton forces have been airing more than $23 million in TV ads in eight swing states, compared to none for Trump.<span style="color: Red;">*</span>She has the energetic support of the incumbent president, whose approval rating now tops 50%.
That said, Trump at the least has<span style="color: Red;">*</span>history on his side. Only once in modern times has a political party managed to hold the White House for a third consecutive term. And at a Pittsburgh focus group Monday conducted by Democratic pollster Peter Hart and sponsored by the nonpartisan<span style="color: Red;">*</span>Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, Trump supporters didn't seem shaken by<span style="color: Red;">*</span>any<span style="color: Red;">*</span>missteps. "He's unapologetic, which I think is kind of nice because it's a change from those dirty politicians," Dara Held, 40, said.
For his allies, Wednesday's speech meant Trump was back on offense. That said, questions remain<span style="color: Red;">*</span>about his strategic focus. On Thursday, he<span style="color: Red;">*</span>is scheduled to leave on a three-day trip for the grand reopening of Trump Turnberry, a golf resort in Scotland.
Which doesn't have any electoral votes.
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