News Analysis: Trump getting back on track but needs to step it up further to clinch White House

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By  Matthew Rusling

WASHINGTON,  (Xinhua) — After falling on his face in recent weeks, U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is trying to get back on track, but experts said he will have to beef up his game even more if he wants to win the White House.

Trump has had a tough time in recent weeks, as rival Hillary Clinton surged ahead in several polls. While the bombastic billionaire tried to show a more presidential side of himself a couple of weeks ago by making a cogent speech on his economic plan, he later ruined those potential gains after he called Clinton “the devil.”

While Trump has galvanized his base – mostly white, blue collar males – by making harsh and insulting remarks against his opposition, analysts said he needs to tone that rhetoric down now in order to appeal to a broader audience.

This week Trump seems to be back on track, upstaging Obama on Friday by visiting the U.S. state of Louisiana, which has seen tens of thousands of people displaced by the massive floodwaters. Obama was on vacation playing golf during the disaster, and critics have blasted him for not visiting the area despite the massive damage to communities there.

Earlier in the week, Trump made a speech on his plan to combat terrorism, avoiding the hot-headed, off-the-cuff remarks for which he is infamous.

While his bombastic and impetuous nature of speaking has galvanized support among his base, Trump’s team knows the candidate needs to tone down his often obnoxious comments in order to appeal to a broader audience.

Analysts said Trump’s main strength is that he appears tough on terrorism, at a time when the Islamic State has launched or been linked to attacks in the U.S. and worldwide. He is also a strong supporter for the police, at a time of increased riots and just weeks after some officers were ambushed and shot dead by assailants.

“Trump understands that his best pitches are on fighting terrorism and restoring law and order in America,” said Darrell West, vice president and director of governance studies of the Brookings Institution.

Trump knows that many voters are disturbed at chaos in the world and at home and they want a tough leader who can stand up to adversaries, West told Xinhua.

“He did a good job this week getting back to these bedrock issues and avoiding divisive statements. He understands that after a series of controversial statements, he can’t continue to do that,” he said.

Still, Trump needs to get the focus off him and onto Clinton, who has been embroiled in a number of scandals recently, as well as for her last three decades in politics.

“His only hope is to turn the race into a referendum on Clinton… He has to reframe the campaign around her fitness for office and ability to lead,” West said.

Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, told Xinhua that Trump will need to do more than make one speech and shuffle around his campaign staff, which he did earlier this week.

Trump first needs to radically overhaul his persona and do this from now until the end of the campaign; Second, he needs to put together a serious organizational structure in the swing states, combined with ads that undercut Clinton’s growing support, Zelizer said.

“But that is a very steep hill to climb,” he said.

Experts said that while Trump’s stepping it up this week might help, it’s not easy to overhaul his image.

“His image is very firmly cemented in the public mind. It’s also unclear whether he will continue with these kinds of speeches, given (that) he’s done this before, only to revert back to the more natural Trump,” Zelizer said of the brash businessman’s knack for insulting people.

Trump sparked controversy early on in his campaign by comparing Mexicans to rapists and calling for a blanket ban on Muslims to the United States.

This week saw Trump express regret in public for what he called the possibility that he may have hurt some people, but analysts said he’ll have to do much more than that to clinch the White House.

Christopher Galdieri, assistant professor at Saint Anselm College, said that Trump needs to move beyond his base, because his base will not be sufficient to win the presidential election.

( Editor: huaxia)

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