A Turning Point on Substance for Trump?

On August 31, Trump delivered a campaign-defining speech on immigration. In the past, Trump’s speeches and interviews have mostly consisted of easily digestible phrases that leave no room for fleshing out substantive policy proposals. He has boiled complicated issues down to good and bad, tremendous and disastrous. While Clinton is well known for being wonkish almost to a fault, Trump does not have a clear plan for most aspects of foreign or domestic policy.

His speech in Phoenix for the first time laid out specific pieces of legislation and programs that Trump would champion to achieve immigration reform. Secure Community Programs. 287g partnerships. The Davis-Oliver bill. Biometric entry/exit visa tracking programs. During his hour- long speech, Trump appeared somewhat wonkish in a way he never has before, and he slammed Clinton for not having a specific plan herself. While the Washington Post has determined that most of Trump’s solutions were based on faulty research, Trump nevertheless emerged from Phoenix looking like a candidate who had some semblance of knowing what he was talking about.

In the course of giving this speech, Trump has started to appear as he has co-opted the characteristics that have traditionally been associated with Clinton’s reputation, thereby pushing back against the unpredictable versus measured dichotomy that distinguished the two candidates for most of the campaign. While he will never surpass Clinton on either of those fronts or rid himself of his fiery reputation, Trump’s busy day on immigration has proved that he can move between the spheres of straight-talker, schoolyard bully, representative of America, and thinker-in-chief.

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