NEW YORK: Donald Trump’s campaign went on the offensive Thursday (Friday in Manila), promising to “sharpen” its message and let the Republican candidate be his authentic—if controversial—self as rival Hillary Clinton leads the polls.
The New York billionaire, whose multiple self-inflicted wounds have left him trailing in virtually every battleground state, spent the day in North Carolina, meeting law enforcement officials and addressing supporters.
“I know how well we’re doing with law enforcement. That could be unanimous. That could be no matter where you go in the country, we get no negative vote,” Trump boasted, as Clinton held talks in Manhattan with police chiefs.
The evening rally in Charlotte was Trump’s first since he overhauled his campaign team this week for the second time in as many months, in a bid to regain some momentum in the drive to win the White House in November.
Clinton leads Trump 47 percent to 41.2 percent, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average, following weeks of errors that have alienated establishment Republicans and seen his own supporters tear their hair out.
Clinton’s lead however is down 5.8 points in the latest average. She was also down 5.8 points in a four-way average, at 42.9 percent.
Trump had 37.1 percent while Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson got 8.6 percent. The Green Party’s Jill Stein obtained an average of 3.2 percent.
Trump has appointed right-wing news executive Stephen Bannon as campaign chief executive and promoted pollster Kellyanne Conway to campaign manager.
Conway embarked on a series of television interviews Thursday, insisting that the emphasis going forward would be on policy. She is the first woman ever to manage a Republican presidential campaign.
“I think it helps us to be a little bit behind,” she told CNN. “It lights a fire under us and reminds us what we need to do to get this done.”
“We’re going to sharpen the message. We’re going to make sure Donald Trump is comfortable about being in his own skin—that he doesn’t lose that authenticity,” she added.
Trump has been badly damaged since engaging in a lengthy war of words with the parents of a Muslim American soldier killed in Iraq—one of the so-called Gold Star families who have lost loved ones in military service.
Critics accused him last week of inciting violence against Clinton in a remark about the right to bear arms, and media reports have swirled about a campaign in crisis and a candidate apparently incapable of reeling in crass remarks.
Conway said she was confident Trump “can stay on message” and accused Clinton of waging “disappointing and unbecoming” attacks on her Republican opponent.
“There’s not a single job that gets created from that, there’s not a single uninsured American who gets health care from that kind of nastiness,” she said.
The shake-up comes with campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who has spent years lobbying for dictators, unsavory foreign clients and rogues, in the headlines in connection with a Ukrainian corruption investigation.