Every candidate campaigns differently in a general election than they do in a primary. It’s common knowledge, but candidates rarely admit it, much less telegraph their plans. Well, chalk another first up for Donald Trump, because his campaign just announced his intentions to “pivot” to a more “presidential” candidate…and they are celebrating the change.
Candidates “Pivot” During the General Election
Trump’s campaign people held a press conference last week where they told reporters to expect a “different guy” in the general election.
According to the Associated Press, Trump election strategist, Paul Manafort, said: “When he’s out on the stage when he’s talking about the kinds of things he’s talking about on the stump, he’s projecting an image that’s for that purpose…You’ll start to see more depth of the person, the real person. You’ll see a real different guy … The negatives will come down. The image is going to change.”
Cruz Speaks Out Against Trump
Predictably, Trump’s primary opponent, Ted Cruz, pounced on the announcement. Slapping back at Trump, who has called him “lying Ted” for months, Cruz said Trump is admitting he’s been lying to people. On Mark Levin’s show, Cruz said:
“I’m actually going to give Trump a little bit of credit here. He’s being candid. He’s telling us he’s lying to us. You look at what his campaign manager says, is that this is just an act. This is just a show … When Donald talks about building a wall, when Donald talks about enforcing immigration laws, when Donald talks about, I guess, anything, that it’s all an act, a show.”
It’s an interesting dynamic in what continues to be an interesting campaign. For years now, pundits and reporters have openly talked about “middle pivots” in national campaigns, candidates sliding away from their more extreme primary personas to be more appealing to moderate national voters. Everyone does it. Now Trump admits, and Cruz jumps on him for it.
Candidates Can Do No Wrong in Supporters’ Eyes
Both statements should delight fans of either candidate. Trump fans will nod and smile, appreciating the honesty and pragmatism. Cruz fans will laud their teetotaling hardliner, who won’t change for nobody.
The real question is which version of the narrative will voters buy. Will they support the candidate who says he had to talk tough and bully as a primary candidate to survive what was once a 17-person race? Or will they appreciate the guy who calls him out on it and refuses to step away from his principles? Pragmatism versus dogmatism for the heart and soul of the GOP and the future of the country. Should be compelling to watch these narratives develop over the next few months.
Roman Temkin is a real estate developer in NYC.