The ‘presidential’ side of Donald Trump? Don’t make us laugh

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Aides to Republican front-runner Donald Trump are now making the case that what we’ve seen from the real estate mogul so far is just an act.

The real estate mogul’s top campaign officials met with members of the Republican National Committee to assure them that Trump will tone down in the general election to not sound so, well, Trumpian. Behind closed doors, they reportedly told nervous and skeptical RNC officials that Trump has merely been “projecting an image” for the primaries, and that the part he was playing is “evolving.”

The Associated Press obtained a recording of the closed-door meeting, no doubt “leaked” to bolster Trump’s image. Trump deputies promised a more subdued Trump in the months ahead.

“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,” newly hired senior Trump aide Paul Manafort told RNC officials, the AP story said. “You’ll start to see more depth of the person, the real person. You’ll see a real different way.”

After Trump won a resounding victory with 60 percent of the vote in the New York primary, his victory speech was more subdued than bombastic. Many media outlets noted the difference and used the word “presidential” in describing Trump’s tone.

If Trump is now acting “presidential,” that just goes to show you how low the bar has fallen.

While Trump’s top advisers were promising Republican leaders that the GOP front-runner would moderate his message, the candidate was telling voters he wasn’t prepared to act presidential — yet.

On the campaign trail, Trump told voters at a raucous rally in Harrisburg, Pa., that he wasn’t quite ready to unveil the kinder, gentler Donald. “I just don’t know if I want to do it yet,” Trump said, according to the AP story. “At some point, I’m going to be so presidential that you people will be so bored,” he said, predicting that the size of his crowds would dwindle if he dialed back his rhetoric.

Pardon our skepticism. This new approach echoes the infamous “Etch-a-Sketch” comments from aides to Republican nominee Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential race, when they vowed that the former Massachusetts governor would hit a reset button to sound more centrist in the general election. How’d that work out again?

At this point, it’s a little late to hit the Trump reset button. After decades of a public persona that included stints in reality TV on Celebrity Apprentice and WrestleMania (well, OK, we can’t call that “reality” TV), multiple wives, four bankruptcies, and his nonstop media presence for the last 10 months, the public knows the Donald all too well. We’ve been hearing the bombast, the shouting, and the lies for too long. We’ve been forced to listen as Trump insulted his opponents, women, disabled people, Muslims, Hispanics, immigrants of all races — everyone short of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But Trump doesn’t seem to be able to help himself — his ego is just too big. After he won the New York primary, he referred to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, his main opponent, as “Senator Cruz.” Days later, Trump had reverted to calling him “Lyin’ Ted.”

As Charlie Pierce wrote in Esquire:

The Republican Party is in the process of being played. They know it. The people in on the scam know it. The media know it. Now it’s going to be time where everybody pretends that nobody understands what’s really going on. If the con works, it becomes the truth. If enough people see Jesus in the bark of an oak tree, then he’s really there.

“You can’t change somebody’s character,” Manafort told the RNC officials. “But you can change the way somebody presents themselves.”

Yes, the Trump “character” remains unchanged, and the American people won’t be fooled by a new presentation. As Pierce wrote, “Give Charlie Manson a suit and nice red tie and run him for alderman.”

Trump is still the same would-be narcissist in chief underneath, no matter how you dress him up.

UPDATE: OK, now that Trump is the official GOP nominee and Hillary Clinton is the official Democratic nominee, Trump apparently thinks he hasn’t been nasty enough. He’s now telling his supporters that he’s “taking the gloves off” in the general election fight, and he’s starting to repeat the chants of “Lock her up!” that were led by his surrogates at the Republican National Convention.

Nope, no pivot. Just more nastiness.

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