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Greg BluesteinTamar Hallerman
Jim Galloway

Is this the pivot? Donald Trump expresses regret and his embattled campaign chief resigns

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters at a rally in Charlotte, N.C. Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters at a rally in Charlotte, N.C. Brian Blanco/Getty Images

 

Donald Trump tried to rebound from an awful summer by ditching his campaign’s embattled chairman and expressing regret for his abrasiveness on the trail for the first time.

In a statement Friday, Trump called Manafort a “true professional” and praised his work for the campaign. Manafort, who was hired in June, was demoted earlier this week amid reports tying him to secretive efforts to help pro-Russian causes in Ukraine.

The New York businessman’s timing was no accident. From the Associated Press:

Donald Trump’s new campaign manager says his expression of remorse for making offensive comments was of his own volition.logo-all

“It was not me,” Kellyanne Conway told ABC’s “Good Morning America” Friday, saying the Republican nominee’s apology Thursday “was all Donald Trump.” She added that “perhaps he felt it before,” but he chose that moment to express them.

Precisely what was she talking about? This:

In a highly uncharacteristic move aimed at resetting his struggling campaign, Donald Trump says for the first time he regrets some of the caustic comments he’s made that may have caused people pain.

Trump told a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, Thursday night: “Sometimes in the heat of debate and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that.” He added: “And believe it or not, I regret it — and I do regret it — particularly where it may have caused personal pain.”

It was a rare admission for Trump, who has said he prefers “not to regret anything.” It underscored the dire situation he finds himself in with just 80 days left until the election.

Disbelief was rampant:

And yet, others are promising to tell the truth, too:

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Is Stacey Abrams a cornerstone of the Democrats “secret plan to win red states without moving to the center?” That’s what Vox asserts in a new piece that highlights her voter registration project:

“We spend a lot of money, and a lot of time, trying to persuade atheists to become Catholics,” says Stacey Abrams, the minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives. “What we have to do is get Baptists to go to church.”

The way they see it, there’s a natural progressive majority in the US, driven by nonwhite citizens. It’s just that many of those citizens don’t vote in midterm elections, or don’t vote at all.

If Democrats stop pivoting to the center and spending money on ads, and start focusing on getting their natural allies to the polls, they can win more durable victories; America, after all, is only getting more diverse. “We’ve already won,” says Abrams — “we just forgot to pick up our prize.”

***
Donald Trump’s general election TV ad campaign begins this morning in North Carolina and elsewhere with an immigration-oriented declaration that “in Hillary Clinton’s America, the system stays rigged against Americans.” NBC has the first clip we’ve seen:

This is an ad you could see in Georgia, if Trump’s fortunes don’t improve quickly.

***

Stop us if you’ve heard this before: Another poll shows a razor-thin race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in Georgia. This time, it’s from WAGA-TV and Insider Advantage, who assert that “Georgia is now a battleground state.”

The poll, conducted by Opinion Savvy, has Clinton and Trump tied at 43 percent, Libertarian Gary Johnson at 11 percent and 3 percent undecided.

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The campaign of Senate Democratic candidate Jim Barksdale is brushing off a recent spate of Republican attacks about the political newcomer’s support of the Iran nuclear deal.

The gist of it: They’re just jealous.

Yesterday brought a cookie-cutter anti-Barksdale ad from the Capitol Hill group tasked with keeping the U.S. Senate in Republican hands. The internet spot targeted Democrats for the $400 million payment to Iran associated with the release of American sailors who wandered into the wrong waters. 

Then came the follow-up from the Georgia GOP, which cited Barksdale’s “reluctance to distance himself from this awful foreign policy blunder.”

“As always, he’s ducking the media and dodging the tough questions,” said Georgia GOP spokesman Ryan Mahoney. “Clearly, Jim Barksdale is comfortable as a rubber stamp for the failed Obama-Clinton agenda.” 

It all prompted this response from Barksdale Campaign Manager Dave Hoffman:

“With multiple polls showing that Georgia’s U.S. Senate race is in single digits, it’s no surprise that Republicans are scrambling in order to address the strength of Jim Barksdale’s outsider candidacy.”

***

After Labor Day, the presidential contest will take a serious turn toward national security. From the Washington Post:

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are scheduled to appear on the same stage early next month at a “commander-in-chief forum” devoted to national security, military affairs and veterans issues.

The Democratic and Republican presidential nominees will appear back-to-back Sept. 7 in New York at an event sponsored by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and broadcast live in primetime on NBC and MSNBC, the sponsors announced Thursday.