Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has dashed the hopes of GOP leadership, who hoped he would tone down his trademark bluster on the campaign trail and start acting more presidential.
“Being presidential is easy,” Trump said Saturday at a rally in Bridgeport, Connecticut. "It’s much easier than what I have to do. Up here, I have to rant and rave and keep you people going, or else you’re going to fall asleep on me, right?”
That message contradicted the one Trump’s chief strategist, Paul Manafort, conveyed to Republican officials Thursday.
“The part that he’s been playing is now evolving into the part that you’ve been expecting,” Manafort told Republican National Committee members at the party’s meeting in Florida.
Manafort told the GOP leadership Trump's demeanor would soon change as he closed in on the Republican nomination and shifted his focus toward attracting general election voters, who tend to be more moderate.
"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," Manafort said.
But Trump declared to the crowd that he had no intention of reversing any of his provocative policy plans, including building a wall along the length of the nation's Southern border with Mexico.
"Everything I say I'm going to do, folks, I'll do,'' he said.
Trump is widely seen as having ignored the importance of the delegate selection process, which he has repeatedly slammed as corrupt. The process can be complicated, with each state Republican Party committee setting its own rules. But more recently, he has begun to court delegates, who could play an unusually large role in the nominating process, especially in the event of a contested convention.
Manafort said Trump was willing to work with the party and had brought in a "team of professionals" who would "finish the job" and begin to "link in with the establishment institutions that are part of our party."