Has Trump finally learned the value of staying on message?

Donald Trump held a rally in Florida Wednesday where he predicted he was going to win the state. But what he said next was unusual for any candidate and maybe especially so for Trump.

“We’ve got to be nice and cool, nice and cool…right? Stay on point, Donald, stay on point. No side tracks, Donald. Nice and easy,” Trump told the crowd. He added, “Because I’ve been watching Hillary the last few days, she’s totally unhinged. We don’t want any of that.” Here’s the video:

While Trump is making light of his own effort to stay on message, CNN reports that, behind the scenes, he is finally coming around to the importance of refusing to take the bait:

For months, when the campaign narrative wasn’t going Clinton’s way or polls were tightening, all her team had to do was go after their Republican rival on something that hit him close to home. He reliably reacted by lashing out in a way that caused a firestorm and then — boom — the discussion was back where Clinton advisers wanted it: all about Trump…

Clinton was quite transparent about her strategy, tweeting, “a man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”

“Up until a week ago, he would say ‘I hear you, I get it. But you’re wrong,’ ” said one source close to Trump, who described his attempts for months to get him to stay on message.

But now, the GOP nominee is suddenly showing remarkable discipline. He is restraining himself on Twitter and is largely sticking to script during speeches at rallies.

Hillary’s team tried to bait Trump into going rogue again this Tuesday, when former Miss Universe Alicia Machado introduced Clinton at a Florida rally. But this time Trump refused to bite. He didn’t tweet about it or mention it at rallies. He is, for the most part, sticking to the script.

One of the factors sources close to Trump cite for this change in attitude is the FBI announcement about the Clinton email investigation. That’s a last minute gift that Trump does not want to squander with another barrage of tweets. Also, Trump is said to be keenly aware the campaign is almost over. He can see the “end zone” one source tells CNN.

Trump said at the beginning of his campaign that he was a counter-puncher. He has demonstrated over the past year that is the case but with only a few days left in the race he finally seems to have grasped that sometimes the best counter-punch is the one you don’t throw.