Donald Trump wants his supporters to know he’s going rogue. Just as his campaign is telling Republican leaders that the GOP frontrunner will be putting forward a more serious image as the convention approaches, Trump is making a show of how he’s dismissing the calls to drop the controversy. He even mocked the idea by playacting what “being presidential” would look like. On Saturday, he imitated what a “presidential” candidate would look like by slowly walking up to the podium and putting on a serious face as he glanced around the crowd before addressing them in a monotone voice. "It’s very easy to be presidential,” Trump said.
The real estate mogul says that he knows his own campaign team is publicly saying that Trump may change. "Paul was down in Florida, and he said, 'You know, Donald might be changing a little bit over a period of time,'" Trump said referring to senior aide Paul Manafor. "'Maybe he'll tone it down, maybe he won't, but who knows what happens.' I said, 'I don't like toning it down.' Isn't it nice that I'm not one of these teleprompter guys?"
The calls to be more presidential aren’t just coming from his campaign, but also his family: "My wife tells me to be more presidential, my daughter tells me to be more presidential.” But there’s a clear reason why he’s resisting. "I can tell you that if I go too presidential, people are going to be very bored," Trump told Fox News, adding that his big concern is that his supporters would "fall asleep."
Throughout a rally in Waterbury, Connecticut on Saturday, Trump seemed determined to show how he wasn’t changing and launched scathing attacks against Ted Cruz and John Kasich. He often reverted to old strategies, including a strong focus on how Cruz is “straight out of the hills of Canada.” When it came to Kasich, Trump made fun of his name. "I'm millions of votes more than Kasich," Trump said. "And I don't know how you pronounce his name. Kasich. It's I-C-H. Every time I see it, I say Kay-SITCH. But it's pronounced Kay-SICK."
Trump’s words on Saturday suggest the frontrunner is well aware he runs the risk of alienating his base if he changes too quickly. After all, 43 percent of his supporters said in a January survey they liked Trump because he “speaks his mind.” He isn’t the only one running a risk. The mending fences that Trump and GOP leaders are attempting now “is fraught with risk for both sides,” notes the Post’s Dan Balz. He explains:
For Trump, the bridge-building represents the challenge of trying to reassure nervous Republican leaders that he can avoid the erratic behavior and divisive rhetoric that have given him the highest negatives of any candidate in the 2016 race while reassuring his angry base that he is not selling out to a party establishment that many of them loathe.
For state and national Republican leaders, the outreach highlights the conflict between the revulsion many of them have felt toward a candidate who has trampled on core GOP values and inflamed much of the electorate and a grudging acceptance that it is increasingly likely the controversial New York billionaire will be leading them into a fall campaign against Hillary Clinton.