Even when Donald Trump is given words to read from teleprompters—which he used to criticize—some of his trademark idiosyncrasies still emerge.
He draws in deep breaths, gripping the podium as he deliberately screeches to a halt for applause lines. Jutting out his bottom row of teeth, Trump looks around the room as if to ensure that people are clapping. He’s an entertainer and people must be entertained.
But when Trump is reined in with prepared remarks, not flying off the cuff as he does at rallies or on Twitter, those tics are about the only sign that this is the same candidate who has spent a year pushing the envelope as far as it can go.
Speaking from his hotel in Soho in New York City, the former reality television star spent almost 45 minutes explaining why Hillary Clinton, a “world-class liar,” would be a disastrous presidential choice for the country.
Trump began by using a strategy that has worked for Clinton’s primary opponent, Bernie Sanders.
“She made $21.6 million giving speeches to Wall Street banks and other special interests—in less than 2 years—secret speeches that she does not want to reveal to the public,” Trump said.
“Together, she and Bill made $153 million giving speeches to lobbyists, CEOs, and foreign governments in the years since 2001.
“They totally own her, and that will never change.”
Trump also once again appealed to Sanders’s supporters directly, as if using the Vermont senator’s talking points would seduce Sanders supporters into ignoring Trump’s 12 months of race-baiting remarks. There’s no real evidence that this strategy would work; and Sanders (for all his reservations about Clinton) has made it painstakingly clear that he wants to stop Trump at all costs.
The speech, with its more reasonable organization and its omission of the phrase “Crooked Hillary,” seemed to be selling the idea that the Trump train isn’t really going off the tracks. It arrives just two days after Trump’s embattled campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was unceremoniously fired from the campaign and after a disastrous financial disclosure form revealed that Trump was scarily short on cash.
And while it represented a more thought-out approach than a rally ramble or a late night white supremacist retweet, it was still riddled with inaccuracies.
“It all started with her bad judgment in supporting the war in Iraq in the first place,” Trump said while discussing Clinton’s foreign policy experience.
“Though I was not in government service, I was among the earliest to criticize the rush to war, and yes, even before the war ever started.”
This has been proven false as Trump, in his own words, supported the invasion prior to the fact.
He also bashed Clinton for supporting Libyan intervention, something which he pushed for as well.
As is common with Trump’s speeches, he took liberties with the truth, as when he said that Clinton’s private email server was hacked by “financial backers in Communist China.”
According to people familiar with the investigation into the former secretary of state’s server, there was no evidence of foreign hacking. Yet at one point, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee claimed that it had found evidence of hacking attempts, which may be where Trump got this accusation.
Trump also repeated the claim that Clinton was asleep and did nothing in response to the attack in Benghazi, which has been proven false in the past.
One area of the winding speech that seemed to show Trump was learning from Paul Manafort, the new head of his campaign, was a passage where the presumptive nominee discussed ISIS and its threat to Muslims.
“ISIS threatens us today because of the decisions Hillary Clinton has made,” Trump said.
“ISIS also threatens peaceful Muslims across the Middle East, and peaceful Muslims across the world, who have been terribly victimized by horrible brutality and who only want to raise their kids in peace and safety.”
Previously Trump has argued for a temporary ban on all Muslims entering the United States, a position that Manafort has tried to walk back as merely a suggestion.
Trump did not veer off-script too much or ad-lib anything that is going cause headaches for his campaign. But the more information he puts out there in his rhetoric, the more he will have to defend and answer in interviews to come.
Near the end of his speech, Trump also promised to appoint Supreme Court justices who “uphold the Constitution” within his first 100 days (a tall order to say the least). It was a slight departure from his remarks to a closed door evangelical meeting on Tuesday where he promised attendees pro-life judges.
Other than delivering speeches with no racial epithets, Trump still has a long way to go to match Clinton’s staffing, fundraising, and swing-state campaigning. And for now Trump’s next stop isn’t going to get him many votes.
Residents of Turnberry, Scotland cannot vote in the U.S. presidential election.