Donald J. Trump, once a great improviser, has started relying on prepared notes when he gives speeches.
While he once rushed to leave the stage after finishing his remarks, he now lingers and works the rope line, shaking hands for several minutes.
For months, he could not resist answering any question lobbed at him by reporters. Now, there is more self-restraint, at least by Mr. Trump’s standards.
Something unmistakable has happened to Mr. Trump since he announced his campaign for president in June: He has become a better candidate.
Whether his newly found discipline will shape his debate appearance Wednesday night remains to be seen. His aides have done little to forecast his approach, although, in a marked departure from the lead-up to the Fox News debate last month, Mr. Trump has been diligently preparing for several days.
It is a striking development that the candidate beloved for his brash, say-anything style would trim around the edges to conform to some of the demands of a presidential race, making him, in some ways, more of a typical politician. It suggests that, as much as the Republican electorate is becoming more comfortable with the idea of Mr. Trump as its standard-bearer, he is embracing the rituals and expectations of the role, too.
“He’s given in to customs like the rope line, which for a germaphobe is probably a pretty big sacrifice,” said Kevin Madden, a Republican strategist, referring to Mr. Trump’s well-publicized dislike of being touched.
Corey Lewandowski, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, said the political neophyte was “truly enjoying being a candidate for president,” adding, “I think he relishes the opportunity to interact with people directly.”
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For much of the summer, the allure of Mr. Trump was his ability to be the Larry David of politicians: someone whom supporters saw as a truth-speaker, saying what they themselves thought but would not utter aloud. He has managed to maintain that appearance despite well-publicized feuds with people like Megyn Kelly of Fox News. But his image as a shoot-from-the-lip candidate obscures some of his recent strides.
He has tamed his tendency to speak endlessly. He mixes more with the crowd, ingratiating himself by handing out his trademark hats rather than darting straight back to the airport. (“Who wants one?& …Read More