Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump said at a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the first time since his campaign started that he regrets some of the things he has said in the past.
Trump acknowledged that some of his statements “may have caused personal pain” and stressed that he feels regret for some of the comments he’s made in the campaign.
“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. I have done that,” the GOP nominee said.
“And believe it or not, I regret it—and I do regret it—particularly where it may have caused personal pain.”
Trump’s comments came a day after he announced a campaign shake-up of his top advisers following reports of declining poll numbers against Democrat Hillary Clinton only a few months away from the election.
On Wednesday Trump changed the faces of his campaign leadership, hiring veteran Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway and Breitbart executive Stephen K. Bannon, who share the philosophy of former Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski, whose mantra was “Let Trump be Trump.”
Paul Manafort, who officially took over running the campaign after Trump fired Lewandowski in June, resigned from his position as campaign chairman on Friday, following the campaign overhaul and reports of Manafort’s suspicious connections to ex-Ukrainian President Viktor F. Yanukovych’s political party.
Manafort’s departure was also the culmination of weeks in dropping poll numbers for the Trump campaign. While Trump saw a post-convention bump late July, his comments about the Muslim-American family of a slain U.S. soldier following the DNC convention, and the subsequent outcry by political leaders on both sides of the aisle started a sharp decline in the polls.
In the controversy surrounding the Khan family, as well as more recently Trump’s comments that President Barack Obama is the “founder of ISIS,” Trump has refrained from apologizing or taking his words back. In the case of the comments about Obama Trump said days later that he was being sarcastic.
The candidate that appeared on Thursday in North Carolina, by contrast, emerged as far less combative and more inclusive, appealing to voters who “don’t hear anyone speaking for them.”
“I will not rest until children of every color in this country are fully included in the American Dream,” Trump told his audience, while accusing Hillary Clinton of bigotry.
Clinton, he claimed, “sees communities of color only as votes and not as human beings worthy of a better future.”
He contrasted that view with his outsider campaign, and pitched himself to black voters, saying, “What do you have to lose by trying something new?”
Friday was also the first day that Trump released ads for the general election, up until now relying only on free media coverage.
The New York businessman’s campaign reserved television ad space over the coming 10 days in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to Kantar Media’s political ad tracker. While Democrat Hillary Clinton has spent more than $75 million on advertising in 10 states since locking up her party’s nomination, Trump’s new investment marks his first of the general election season.
The Clinton campaign was quick to dismiss the more inclusive tone by Trump, pointing out that he’s had plenty of time before now to express regret.
“Donald Trump literally started his campaign by insulting people. He has continued to do so through each of the 428 days from then until now, without shame or regret,” said Clinton campaign spokeswoman Christina Reynolds in a statement.
“We learned tonight that his speechwriter and teleprompter knows he has much for which he should apologize. 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,” she said.
Meanwhile, there are 81 days left until the election on Nov. 8, and it’s yet to be seen if these changes to the Trump campaign will shift the dynamics of the race.
Associated Press contributed to this report.