On the night he swept five primaries, part-time Palm Beacher Donald Trump declared himself the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party and made a long-awaited pivot to the general election — but not the kind of shift the GOP establishment was promised last week.
Trump was expected to do well in Tuesday’s primaries in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware and Rhode Island. The main suspense was whether he’d use his victory speech to adopt a more “presidential” tone, as his newly hired senior adviser Paul Manafort promised to Republican National Committee members last week in Broward County.
Manafort told RNC members that Trump has been “projecting an image” with his insult-throwing, anti-establishment performances on the primary campaign trail, but “the part that he’s been playing is now evolving.”
Trump pushed back against that notion Tuesday night.
“I’m not changing. I went to the best schools. I’m like a very smart person…I don’t want to change my personality. It got me here,” Trump told reporters.
He called on rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich to get out of the race. In what could be considered a shift from primary to general election mode, Trump refrained from calling Cruz “Lyin’ Ted.” Instead, he directed several barbs at all-but-official Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Trump called her “Crooked Hillary” and, echoing Bernie Sanders, attacked Clinton from the left on trade and Wall Street. And he closed the night by doubling down on his claim that Clinton is playing the “woman’s card” in her campaign.
“I think the only card she has is the woman’s card. She’s got nothing else going. And frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote,” Trump said.
The toned-down Trump promised by Manafort could make an appearance today when he’s scheduled to deliver a foreign policy address — perhaps even reading from a teleprompter — in Washington, D.C. Follow PostOnPolitics.com and @gbennettpost on Twitter beginning around noon for coverage.