After a big win in New York, Republican front-runner Donald Trump continues the fight to rack up enough delegates to clinch the GOP nomination. On Sunday, Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace spoke to Trump’s newly-appointed Convention Manager Paul Manafort about the campaign strategy to get 1,237 delegates before the Cleveland convention.
Donald Trump’s new campaign manager said Sunday that his comments that the Republican front-runner was “evolving” from a rough and sometimes raucous candidate to one with a more presidential persona in preparation for the general election had been taken out of context.
Paul Manafort — whose leaked comments at a private meeting last week with Republican Party leaders have prompted questions anew about Trump’s loyalty to the party and its conservative ideology — said on “Fox News Sunday” that he was not referring to the candidate’s core beliefs.
“We were talking about evolving the campaign, not the candidate,” Manafort said. He sought to convince a skeptical Chris Wallace that he was referring to how Trump talks to cheering followers at campaign events versus “when he’s giving speeches on policy, settings that are not rally-oriented.”
At a closed-door meeting of the Republican National Committee, in Hollywood, Fla., on Thursday, Manafort sought to assure nervous officials that Trump could represent the party well in a general election.
“He gets it,” Manafort told RNC members. “The part that he’s been playing is now evolving into the part that you’ve been expecting. The negatives will come down, the image is going to change.” The conversation was secretly recorded and leaked to several news organizations, including The Washington Post, and Trump and his campaign aides have argued that the comments have been misconstrued.
Manafort dismissed criticism from Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Trump’s closest competitor, who suggested that the businessman was also play-acting as a conservative. For instance, Cruz said Trump would “not build a wall” and deport illegal immigrants, as he has said on the campaign trail.
“There’s the liar, not Trump,” Manafort said in the Fox interview. “I never said Trump was not going to build the wall. He has not changed any of his positions.” The campaign manager said Cruz was trying to “change the narrative because he’s losing.”
Trump’s son, Donald Jr., appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” also said that his father’s incendiary comments on illegal immigrants are “to be taken literally” and that he deserved credit for raising the issue in the campaign.
He defended his father’s use of charged rhetoric in discussing some issues, saying it was intended “to draw the requisite attention.” He said it was “a natural evolution” that the GOP front-runner would tone down his rhetoric in “switching over to the general election, when he will have to talk to a broader audience.”
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