Donald Trump: Reputation expert claims 'desperate' Trump 'is trying to pull the greatest comeback in election history'

 What chances does the Republican nominee actually have of reaching the White House? 

Trump appears contrite in scripted speech

It has been one of the more unusual months in Donald Trump’s campaign. For a while, it seemed as though there would not be one action or comment, no matter how polarising or controversial, that could derail him in his quest for the White House.

But over the past seven days the world has been introduced to a more contrite Mr Trump. On Thursday, the billionaire magnate defied his usual off the cuff rally style and arrived in Charlotte with a scripted and repentant speech. Mr Trump has built a supporter base partly out his refusal to be what he calls “politically correct”, his ability to provoke and his refusal to back down.

The apology has never been a campaign tactic for Mr Trump - until now.

“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,” he told those gathered, without actually specifying which comments he was referring to. “I have done that, and believe it or not, I regret it. I do regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain.”

The 70-year-old's prospects of actually reaching the White House are now being questioned after a series of controversies that risk alienating huge cross-sections of the electorate.

John Oliver stepped in on Sunday night to advise Mr Trump to abandon his political ambitions in order to salvage his reputation. "Drop out and tell America this entire candidacy was a stunt, a satire to expose the flaws in the system," the satirical news host said on Last Week Tonight on Sunday night.

Eric Schiffer, a celebrity reputation expert and CEO of ReputationManagementConsultants.com, is equally pessimistic about Mr Trump's prospect of beating his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

Remarks about Muslims, Mexican immigrants and women have all made his campaign for the Republican nomination one marked by increasing controversy.

Mr Schiffer says the backlash over some of his more recent comments has proved particularly damaging to his campaign.

He told the Independent: “With politicians, it’s much more about strategy, positioning and communication strategy. So for instance, we see this now with Donald Trump. He has said ‘he regrets what he said’.

“[He has apologised] because he’s getting torched in the media and I think there is a backlash against him with a certain voter demographic. He doesn’t want to continue to get clobbered and he realises he’s made these giant gaffes. Otherwise he will continue to get pummelled.

“He didn’t want to apologise before because his brand was about toughness and strength."

After being brought in as Mr Trump’s campaign manager on 17 August, Kellyanne Conway made her mark by introducing a more restrained approach to his public appearances.

This about turn was evident at a town hall with Sean Hannity on Tuesday evening where Mr Trump suggested “there could certainly be a softening” in his immigration proposals after months of “big, beautiful wall” rhetoric, “because we're not looking to hurt people.”

Mr Schiffer believes Mr Trump will now work to repair his relationship with an area of the voter demographic by attempting to “woo” women.

“She is helping him try to win back what I would call security moms in the United States - women who are mothers but single and/or just mothers in general and single women who are concerned about security, yet have enough self-respect as a woman that they don’t want to be talked to by any politician or demeaned, as Mr Trump has demeaned women repeatedly."

Donald Trump suggests mother of fallen Muslim-American soldier 'wasn't allowed' to speak at DNC 2016

He said Mr Trump will have to be fully scripted from here on in to have a real chance at succeeding in his presidential bid. On Monday, Mr Trump gave another teleprompter led speech where he continued his bid to court black and Hispanic voters, which he launched at various rallies last week, until he veered off script. “We’ll get rid of the crime,” he said. “You’ll be able to walk down the street without getting shot. [Now] when you walk down the street, you get shot.”

“He can’t allow himself to go off script,” said Mr Schiffer. "We saw it at the rally [in Charlotte] - he’s reading a script, he’s playing an acting role now, and if he stays on that programme then he will likely close some of the gap, but I still think at this point it’s a desperate attempt to rebuild a brand.

“I think at this point he’s desperate. I think he brought her [Ms Conway] in because he releases that this is going to be a decapitating election for him. He’s trying to pull the greatest comeback in election history but I think it’s going to be ultimately a massive loss for him because I don’t think you can hide and cover-up something that is extremely dangerous. I think the public knows. You can’t suffocate the truth.”

He says an “immense” shift in the public perception of Mr Trump has taken place over the last three months, particularly after the comments he made about the parents of a fallen Muslim-American soldier and his mocking of a disabled reporter.

“It largely came, I think, after his attack on the Khan family because people saw him as someone who has no empathy. How can you do that to parents who are clearly grieving, who are genuine people, who don’t deserve to be treated with such disrespect? And for him to do that with a Gold Star family? It also send a signal to people that the military and their family shouldn’t be honoured. That goes against a couple of hundred years tradition.”

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