Donald Trump is set to shift his strategy to win the White House, becoming less antagonistic toward the GOP establishment and adopting a less abrasive tone on social issues. But the approach brings risks as well as potential rewards.
At a closed-door briefing with Republican National Committee (RNC) members Thursday, Trump aide Paul Manafort assured his audience that his boss is not “running against” the national party and that he “cares about the united team.”
The key question is whether Trump can establish more civil relations with the RNC and set a more sober-minded tone in general — while also not disenchanting supporters who were drawn to the businessman as a brash voice unwilling to pay deference to the powers-that-be.
Most Republican strategists believe that there is an imperative for Trump to tack toward the center and try to unify the party, however.
“I don’t know if Trump is playing a part but he certainly needs a second act,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell. “Cozying up to the GOP establishment is risky because it could conceivably reinvigorate the Never Trump crew. Nevertheless, it’s the right thing to do if he wants to win the general election.”
Mackowiak and O’Connell also independently questioned whether Trump would have the restraint to stick to a more reserved, statesman-like tenor.
“He already had the image of the fighter who won’t back down, down pat,” said O’Connell. “He has to start demonstrating that he has the steady hand of presidential leadership. The tone and rhetoric is better. But does he have the discipline? We don’t know.”