The front-runner’s controversial rhetoric and policy proposals have divided Republicans, with many taking up the #NeverTrump cause. But in his Super Tuesday victory speech last night, Trump, who won seven of 11 states on the day with the most delegates at stake, vowed to unite the Republican party and lead it to victory in November.
“We’re going to be a unified party,” he said. “Our party is expanding … I think we’ll be more inclusive and more unified. I think we’ll be a much bigger party. I think we’re going to win in November.”
Trump’s son Donald Jr. also touted his dad’s softer side on The Chad Hasty Show Wednesday, saying, “He can be diplomatic. He can do that better than – you can’t have his track record of success, you can’t do the deals he’s done all over the world, if you weren’t able to do that.”
If Trump wants the support of GOP leaders, it looks like he’ll have to make good on his diplomacy promise. Some critics, like Sen. John McCain and House Speaker Paul Ryan, have said they’d be willing to give Trump a second chance – if he can get his act together.
Ryan recently denounced Trump for failing to promptly condemn the endorsement of former KKK leader David Duke, saying the GOP hopeful must reject “any group or cause built on bigotry.” He did not, however, walk back his earlier promise to support the front-runner should he become the nominee. (Trump, meanwhile, had an ultimatum of his own for the Speaker: “I’m going to get along with Paul Ryan,” he said. “And if I don’t, he’s going to have to pay a big price.”)
And McCain, himself the target of the billionaire businessman’s insults (Trump said the decorated Navy pilot who spent more than five years in a North Vietnamese prison was not a hero), told Don Imus on Tuesday morning that he wants Trump to apologize to all prisoners of war for that earlier slight – and clean up his behavior – and then maybe McCain would back Trump if he’s the Republican nominee.
It all depends, the senator said, on how Trump “conducts himself” going forward. McCain noted that the GOP front-runner made “some attempts” to be more statesmanly in his Super Tuesday victory speech.
It wasn’t the first time Trump tried the diplomatic approach. And his past attempts didn’t stick for long.
“Be nice to the person,” Trump told a Florida crowd in November as a protestor was ejected from his rally. “Don’t hurt the person … Please nicely escort the person out.” And then, “You see how diplomatic I’ve become?”
Soon enough, he was back to whipping up his crowds against demonstrators. When a protestor disrupted a Trump rally in Las Vegas last month, the real estate mogul said he missed the “good old days” when demonstrators were punished with physical violence.
“I love the old days, you know? You know what I hate? There’s a guy totally disruptive, throwing punches. We’re not allowed to punch back anymore,” he lamented. “I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”
“The guards are very gentle with him,” Trump added later. “He’s walking out like big high-fives, he’s smiling, laughing. I’d like to punch him in the face.”
And on Tuesday night, mere minutes after he said with a smile, “I’m becoming diplomatic,” Trump was back to belittling rival Marco Rubio.
“He decided to become Don Rickles, okay? But Don Rickles has a lot more talent … The loser of the night was Marco Rubio.”