Trump's Refusal To Disappoint Rally Crowds Raises 2020 Concerns

When the country reeled from a deadly synagogue shooting and a package bomb scare last month, President Trumppledged to “tone down” his harsh rhetoric on the stump — but his rally crowds wouldn’t let him.

Mr. Trump was left wondering whether he would be able to soften his tone for the next two years and the 2020 re-election race, when he might need a lighter touch to win over independents and shore up soft support from 2016.

The thousands packing his midterm rallies in the immediate aftermath of the shocking crimes clamored for Mr. Trump’s trademark attacks on political foes.

They broke out in chants of “lock her up” at the mention of Hillary Clinton and “CNN sucks” when he called out the news network, despite both being among the more than a dozen targets of package bombs purportedly mailed by Cesar Sayoc, a deranged Trump supporter.

Mr. Trump refused to disappoint the rally crowds, having the most consequential midterm election in a generation to worry about. He also says he worries that playing nice would risk him getting “swamped” by the fierce opposition on Capitol Hill and in newsrooms across the country.

But in a rare self-critique, Mr. Trump told Sinclair Broadcasting Group that he regrets the harsh tone of his first two years in office.

Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist closely aligned with the White House, said Mr. Trump is someone who will do whatever is needed to win, including changing his tone. That might not be necessary, though.

“A big part of his brand has been his fiery rhetoric, and I think there is a portion of his supporters that do expect that,” he said. “Obviously it does rub some independents the wrong way. But what we noticed is that independents also seem to care a little bit more about results than the package they come in.”

Just before Tuesday’s election, an ABC News poll showed Republicans making significant gains with independent female voters.

That key demographic split evenly — 43-41 percent —among Democratic and Republican House candidates in the survey, erasing a 33-point Democrat lead in October.

“The reason is that they don’t like it when people aren’t delivering results,” Mr. O’Connell said. “The president will make the judgment call on whether he has to moderate his rhetoric at all. But if he continues to deliver on his promises, chances are he will be the favorite to win re-election.”

Read more from S.A. Miller at The Washington Times

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