At this point, conversations about Trump's ability and willingness to offend are almost pointless. Trump does and says things that not only would be poison for any other politician — of either party — but also that play dangerously with racial and ethnic politics.
What is important is that the idea that Trump would adjust his rhetoric or his issue positions once he became the Republican nominee is totally and completely false. There is no Trump 2.0, no re-invention of Trump as more inclusive or less combative. This is it.
Trump has said as much.
“You think I’m going to change?" he asked rhetorically during a news conference Tuesday at Trump Tower. "I’m not changing."
He has said some version of "Trump gonna Trump" for weeks now — even while occasionally promising to maybe be a little bit nicer and amid promises from chief campaign strategist Paul Manafort that the "new" Trump was coming soon. A placid debate here. A nice comment about a former rival there. But, generally, Trump can't escape — and doesn't seem to want to escape — from being exactly, unapologetically who he is.
Think about it from Trump's perspective. Everyone — and I do mean everyone — laughed at him when he got into the presidential race almost a year ago. They said he was nothing more than a reality TV star. A loud-talking know-nothing who wouldn't go anywhere. Then Trump won the GOP nomination. Convincingly.
What possible lesson could he draw from that? This one: That the people who say they know what works in politics have no clue. And that the people who matter — voters — love his over-the-top rhetoric and willingness to be controversial all the time.
Plus, remember that Trump is 69 years old. How many people of that age — particularly those who have lived as public and successful a life as Trump — make major changes in who they are and how they approach the world? The answer is very, very few.
If you are a Republican elected official *cough* Paul Ryan *cough* desperately hoping that a more cerebral, more serious, less I-will-say-whatever-is-on-my-mind-at-this-exact-second Trump is just about to emerge, I have some news for you: You're out of luck.
Trump is who he is. Republican voters — or at least a decent chunk of them — liked that person enough to hand him the party's presidential nomination. And that's the person Trump will be between now and Nov. 8 — and the one the GOP has pinned its hopes on. Gulp.