Except if it's not. Or if it's already too late.
Remember that Trump has dangled the pivot promise before. He would regularly tell interviewers earlier this year that once he locked up the primary nomination, he would start to act more "presidential." On the night of the California primary — June 7 — Trump delivered a speech on a teleprompter that made clear he understood or claimed to understand the responsibilities of being the presidential nominee of the Republican Party. Throughout the summer, pivots have been floated by his aides — led by now-deposed campaign chairman Paul Manafort — only to be ultimately dismissed by the candidate himself.
One speech coming hard on a(nother) campaign shake-up then can't be — or shouldn't be — considered a pivot. It's like losing 10 pounds on the first five days of a diet. It's not about the initial weight loss. It's about sticking to the diet plan, which usually requires an extended commitment to changing your lifestyle. That's how success is judged.
Then there's the fact that Trump is not only badly behind in most key swing state polling but also has an image problem that makes Clinton's issues seem like small potatoes.
Not only does Trump trail Clinton 50 percent to 42 percent in the latest Washington Post-ABC News national poll, but 61 percent of registered voters have an unfavorable opinion of him — including 50 percent who view Trump in a strongly unfavorable light.
The story is the same in swing states. Trump trails Clinton by 14 points in a new WaPo Virginia poll, while the Republican nominee's unfavorable rating among registered voters is a whopping 65 percent.
Reminder: It's Aug. 19. Trump has spent almost every day since he effectively secured the party's nomination in the May 3 Indiana primary making his image problems worse, not better. The general election is in 81 days. While people say that's ages in political terms — and they're right — it's also true that perceptions about politicians are tough to change in less than three months' time. Especially when people feel as strongly about a candidate as they feel about Trump.
We may look back — assuming Trump can stick to the message and tone he debuted in Charlotte last night — and conclude that it was simply too little, too late. Trump has wasted well more than half of the general-election campaign on a petulant and strategy-less effort that has left him badly out-positioned heading into the fall. A single speech won't change those facts.