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In Full Trump Style, Front-Runner Blasts Rivals Cruz, Kasich

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Donald Trump, meanwhile, is moving closer to the GOP nomination. And there's a lot of talk that he's trying to tone things down and be more presidential, as he calls it. But NPR's Sarah McCammon reports it can be hard to tell.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: For weeks, Donald Trump has been saying that his wife Melania and daughter Ivanka have urged him to strike a more formal tone. But he told a packed convention center in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. last night that's just too easy.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: That would be much easier than doing what I'm doing right now 'cause I could talk nice and calm and everybody would fall asleep after ten minutes.

MCCAMMON: There are some indications that Trump is trying to soften his image. He's been making more appearances with his family. His new top adviser, Paul Manafort, was secretly recorded telling Republican leaders that the real, more policy-focused Trump will emerge soon. And he'll make a foreign-policy speech tomorrow. After his big win in his home state of New York last week, Trump gave a brief, disciplined speech where he referred to his chief rival as Sen. Cruz. But last night in Pennsylvania, the old Trump was back.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: And look, he's lying Ted. He holds the Bible high, and then he lies. He puts it down.

UNIDENTIFIED SUPPORTERS: (Chanting) Lying Ted, lying Ted.

TRUMP: Lying Ted.

MCCAMMON: At last night's rally, Trump called both of his rivals sad. He went after Ohio Gov. John Kasich for eating pancakes during a televised interview at a Philadelphia diner.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: I'm always telling my boy, take small bites, Barron, little, tiny bites. And yesterday, he said, Daddy, who is that guy on television? That's disgusting. Did you ever see - and then they talk about presidential.

MCCAMMON: Of course, for some, his tone is part of the appeal. Connie Check of Slatington, Pa. says, sure, some of it's harsh, but...

CONNIE CHECK: I think a lot of it is blown out of proportion. I think he might have attempted to say other things and they read into it.

MCCAMMON: John Laughner of Pocono Pines thinks Trump just gets riled up in front of a crowd.

JOHN LAUGHNER: He just gets in front of all those people - I don't think he'd act that way as a president or if he was doing business.

MCCAMMON: As he waited to go inside, John Mower of Pocono Lakes said he doesn't expect a big shift in Trump's tone anytime soon.

JOHN MOWER: I don't think he can. I mean, I'm 63. Donald's - what? - 68, 69? I mean, I'm set in my ways. He's set in his ways. And quite frankly, I'm standing in this line that's a mile and a half long because I like the way he is today.

MCCAMMON: For now, Trump is counting on supporters who like what they're seeing to help him pick up delegates in today's primaries. But if he becomes the GOP nominee, that may be the time when Trump has to adjust his style for a wider audience. Sarah McCammon, NPR News, Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.