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With New Campaign Leadership Comes A New Trump: Apologetic

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Donald Trump brought a new tone to the campaign trail tonight. As the Republican nominee appears to be refocusing his campaign with new staff at the top, he also appeared reflective tonight speaking to supporters in North Carolina about missteps that have set his campaign back.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: Sometimes in the heat of debate and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don't choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that.

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: And believe it or not, I regret it.

CORNISH: NPR's Scott Detrow is in Charlotte where Trump spoke a short while ago. And, Scott, everyone has been using the word pivot for weeks. Is it something we're actually witnessing now?

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: If just for one speech so far, yes. You know, this comes after a stretch where the establishment has urged, begged, pleaded with Donald Trump to change and have a broader, softer message, and he had resisted that saying, you know, I am who I am. I'm not going to change. And then he goes ahead tonight and does something that he has hardly ever done - if ever done at all during the campaign - that's basically apologize.

He said that those remarks have caused pain for some people. Trump said what he's trying to do is fight for working people, but he said that establishment Republicans and especially the media are just focusing on those attacks. And we have some of that tape.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: The establishment media doesn't cover what really matters in this country or what's really going on in people's lives. They will take words of mine out of context and spend a week obsessing over every single syllable and then pretend to discover some hidden meaning in what I said.

CORNISH: So if Donald Trump is trying to focus on a message, then who is that message aimed at?

DETROW: He talked a lot about what he called forgotten people. You know, that can be rural people, people who've worked in the manufacturing sector that have been hurt by an increasingly global trade market. He talked a lot about fixing the economy and said, you know, from his business background when something's broken, you fix it.

One thing he did tonight that he's been doing increasingly lately was reach out to African-American voters. One thing he said several times was that they have nothing to lose by voting Republican, which is something that most African-American voters typically tend not to do. You know, this was a softer tone. Perhaps, he's trying to reach out to suburban women. Poll after poll shows that he's losing them by wide margins right now.

CORNISH: This is not the first speech Donald Trump has given in recent times where a teleprompter was involved. We also know he's brought in new leadership for his campaign this week. Is there any way to know that this is going to be enough of a change?

DETROW: Well, I mean, it comes after a point where he's dropped in the polls, he's dropped in personal approval rating, on the key question of does this person have the temperament to be president, more and more people have been saying no lately. The Trump campaign says the fall is when people really focus in that they can come back from these poll numbers right now. You know, but it's hard to overstate how far behind Trump is right now. He's down in a lot of key states. And he's got to start turning things around very, very quickly to make this - to get where he needs to be at this point.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Scott Detrow. He's traveling with the Trump campaign in Charlotte, N.C. Scott, thanks so much for talking with us.

DETROW: Any time, Audie. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.