There has been talk of Donald Trump “pivoting” for months. Trump surrogate Ben Carson said in March, “You’re going to see Trump pivoting." In July, Reince Priebus used the word four times in an interview on ABC: “I think as he pivots to the general election, picking Mike Pence, I think he’s much more precise in his rhetoric, in his tone, in his attack,” “He knows the pivot is important. He has been better and I think he’s going to be great moving forward,” “He’s getting there and he’s going to pivot there,” and “Donald Trump on the stage delivering a great speech is going to go a long way for Donald Trump in pivoting to the general.”
It ain’t gonna happen, if the last word belongs to Trump.
Speaking with TIME on Tuesday, Trump revealed he’s not interested in toning down his rhetoric. TIME asked, “Going back to the polls, some showed you down six, seven, eight points nationally and in swing states by a similar margin. You won the primary, but the general election is obviously a very different electorate. What do you have to do differently?”
Well, I’m running it differently than I did the primaries. I am listening to so-called experts to ease up the rhetoric, and so far, I’m liking the way I ran in the primaries better … But I’m now listening to people that are telling me to be easier, to be nicer, be softer. That’s OK, and I’m doing that. Personally, I don’t know if that’s what the country wants. When we’re having heads chopped off in the Middle East, when things are happening that have never happened before in terms of the atrocities, in terms of giving $400 million in cash and all other things, I think maybe they want tougher rhetoric. They would like me to be a little bit different than I was in the primaries. And in the primaries, I broke the all-time record for votes.
TIME pressed, “So do you intend to revert?”
Trump doubled down: “I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with anybody. I think I may do better the other way. They would like to see it be a little bit different, a little more modified. I don’t like to modify. But that’s what I’ve done. We’ll see where it takes me.”
"I am listening to so-called experts to ease up the rhetoric, and so far, I’m liking the way I ran in the primaries better."
When TIME remarked, “You seem to want to return to the way things used to be during the primary,” Trump replied, “I am having a good time. Again, you see the difference. Let’s say between yesterday and go back into the rallies. I would say that I like the previous better. I can always revert to that if I want. It was more of an attacking style, which perhaps is a more natural style for me. There’s always a chance that I will do that and can go back to that.”