With poll numbers falling, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump apologised on Thursday for past remarks that “may have caused personal pain” as he sought to refocus his message.
He made the apology in his first speech since shaking up his campaign team this week.
“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,” Trump told a crowd in Charlotte, North Carolina. “I have done that, and I regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain. Too much is at stake for us to be consumed with these issues.”
Trump did not cite any examples of such remarks. The New York businessman has made his “tough talk” and brash style a selling point of his campaign for the Nov. 8 election, rarely apologising in the face of criticism even from within his own party for own party for comments insulting women, Muslims and Mexican immigrants.
In his presidential announcement speech last year, he described some Mexican immigrants as “criminals and rapists.” He recently faced a barrage of criticism for belittling the family of a Muslim American soldier who died in Iraq in 2004, after the soldier’s father spoke out against Trump at the Democratic National Convention last month.
The campaign for his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, quickly dismissed Trump’s apology, saying: “Donald Trump literally started his campaign by insulting people.
“We learned tonight that his speechwriter and teleprompter knows he has much for which he should apologize,” the campaign said in a statement. “But that apology tonight is simply a well-written phrase until he tells us which of his many offensive, bullying and divisive comments he regrets — and changes his tune altogether.”
Trailing Clinton in national opinion polls, Trump has tried to reset his campaign, announcing on Wednesday a shake-up of his senior campaign staff for the second time in less than two months. In the past week, he has abandoned his free-wheeling style of campaigning, instead using a teleprompter at every rally.
Trump also began adding non-rally events to his campaign schedule, visiting a police lodge on Thursday afternoon and hosting a roundtable on Wednesday morning. Previously, Trump had eschewed such events that historically comprise a significant portion of a candidate’s time.
Trump’s speech on Thursday night, echoing remarks earlier in the week in Wisconsin, reached out to minority voters and accused Clinton of being dishonest.
“So while sometimes I can be too honest, Hillary Clinton is the exact opposite: She never tells the truth,” Trump said. “In this journey, I will never lie to you. I will never tell you something I do not believe.”