Donald Trump defeated a platoon of Republican contenders by barnstorming primary states with off-the-cuff, rambling speeches in packed arenas, while control ing news cycles with Twitter rants.
As the GOP presidential nominee, his campaign is expected to pivot away from the primary race rough and tumble toward an image that could attract centrist voters. But for weeks after wrapping up the nominate, Trump tweeted insults about Republicans who had not jumped on his bandwagon.
Trump's posts in the hours after the Orlando night club attack drew widespread criticisms, especially when he tweeted "Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!" Critics suggested he was congratulating himself in the way of the tragedy.
Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2016
There are indications now that Paul Manafort, who was promoted to campaign manager when Trump dumped Corey Lewandowski last week, has taken control of the candidate's Twitter account and put it in the hands of a digital media team -- something Hillary Clinton has always used.
Clinton -- with a campaign staff 700 -- rarely composes her own tweets. A team does it for her, following an organized strategy. The few direct posts from the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee have an "H" at the end.
Trump --with only about 70 staffers at least count --is known to handle most of his own tweeting from his smartphone. This has led to late night and early morning insult-filled rants against anyone who got under his skin at a particular moment.
Trump's Twitter timeline went silent for 36 hours starting Monday morning, an unusual silence for Trump. When tweeting resumed Tuesday afternoon, something seemed different. Tweets were composed in a browser and not the Twitter phone app, as usual. The language also seemed tamer.
"Hillary Clinton's Presidency would be catastrophic for the future of our country. She is ill-fit with bad judgment." No "Crooked Hillary"? A review of Trump's tweeting history shows few examples in the last month where a Hillary reference was not prefaced with "Crooked." And "Ill-fit"? It doesn't sound like the Trump who recently tweeted Clinton was "a disaster."
Hillary Clinton's Presidency would be catastrophic for-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2016
the future of our country. She is ill-fit with bad judgment.
His Tuesday tweet in the wake of the terror attack at the Istanbul airport also seem too mild to be authentic Trump. "Yet another terrorist attack, this time in Turkey. Will the world ever realize what is going on? So sad."
Yet another terrorist attack, this time in Turkey. Will-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2016
the world ever realize what is going on? So sad.
Just as Trump now reads speeches from a TelePrompTer, helping to avoid potential extemporaneous disasters, these watered-down tweets are less likely to send the campaign off track. But these canned speeches and tweets are also less likely to go viral on social media and trigger intense cable news attention for Trump.
Trump won the GOP nomination despite spending far less than most rivals because of the free media his rallies and tweets brought him. But with the heat turned down, will that fade. Can Trump make up for the loss by spending money on paid adversing? Will his campaign raise enough money to do that? Will we eventually see Trump fire his TelePrompTer and Twitter team and bring back the real Donald?