To state the obvious, as the president did on Twitter in the aftermath of the election, Gillespie—a nice guy who had been about as far from the bullying, swaggering, social media-addicted, almost-seems-like-he-has-Tourette’s, nationalist-populist Trump—was and is not Trump. But Gillespie tried to convince Trump’s voters, who he needed to support him to have any shot at winning that he was Trump by talking policy—when voters aren’t policy-driven.
It came off as inauthentic, which even if one accepts that the Trump we see is a caricature of the actual man, isn’t very Trumpy. And by the way, voters, and the media that they consume, generally don’t respond well to inauthentic candidates.
Bill Clinton may be a liar and a cheat, but few people ever looked at Bubba and said “actually, he’s an introvert, has no empathy with working people, and when he’s at home, speaks with an upper crust New England accent.”