“If you laid that speech next to videos of his rallies, it’s mind-boggling,” said David Axelrod, a senior adviser Obama. “He said what you’d want the president to say. The problem is that in real life, he’s a provocateur, not a healer, and his whole political project depends on those provocations. And so how long will it be before he returns to ‘Twitter Trump’ stirring the pot? How long before the next rally when he uses the dehumanizing language that he decried in his remarks today?”
Indeed, the president has a history of walking back his more conciliatory comments and retreating into the incendiary language he believes his base prefers. After Charlottesville, for example, Trump faced a storm of criticism for condemning “violence on many sides,” prompting him to deliver teleprompter remarks admonishing white supremacists — only to backtrack again by saying there were “very fine people” on both sides…
Tim O’Brien, a Trump biographer and executive editor of Bloomberg Opinion, said that “Twitter is the closest to Donald Trump’s core that you’re going to get publicly.”
When he reads from a teleprompter, O’Brien added, Trump has little “tells” — those moments when he goes off script. The president did so at the end of his remarks Monday, when he accidentally blessed the memory of “those who perished in Toledo” — even though the shootings were in Dayton and El Paso. (When the White House sent out an official transcript of his speech, they had simply crossed out “in Toledo” from the text).
The message that sends, O’Brien said, is “that he just doesn’t care enough, that he isn’t steeped in the details, that he wasn’t checking in over the weekend with his people, that he wasn’t making plans to go there, that he wasn’t in touch with the governor of Ohio and the mayor of Dayton.”