We know, we know, Donald Trump wants to Make American Great Again — but he seems to realize now that he might need to be a little nicer to do that. While meeting with fans at the Iowa-Iowa State football game on Saturday, Trump told CNN that he was "trying to be nice" in his comments about his fellow candidates. Does that mean he's really ready to leave the sometimes-sexist, always-abrasive attacks on his opponents behind, and finally be pleasant during Wednesday's second Republican debate?
Since the very start of his campaign, Trump has solidified his position as the Republican Party's bad boy — so bad, in fact, that the Republican Party doesn't even necessarily want him on its side. He has made enemies based on his comments about Latinos, women, and his fellow candidates (Remember that time he gave out Lindsey Graham's phone number? Or that time he brought up Rosie O'Donnell at the debate?). Based on this track record, it's only fair to wonder what's gotten into him and whether or not his new attitude is legit.
Surprisingly, Trump does actually seem a bit nicer in his recent interviews. In Iowa on Saturday, he very mildly described his Republican opponents ahead of the next GOP debate on Wednesday. He told CNN, "Everyone's capable, everyone's competent." Yes, the Donald practically complimented everyone he's running against on the Republican side.
On Friday, Trump appeared on The Tonight Show, where he got funny and stayed calm with Jimmy Fallon. When asked about Carly Fiorina, Trump said, "I think she's a very nice woman." About Hillary Clinton's struggles throughout her campaign, he said, "I feel terribly about it." He didn't seem to point fingers or use any fighting words throughout the entire interview.
Still, unlike my love for Mean Girls references, the limit to Trump's niceness does exist. After all, he's still a candidate for president and it's an unfortunate rule of thumb that one can only be so nice when running for office in this country. As we've seen, Trump is good at taking this rule of thumb to the extreme. Just last week, he made headlines for attacking Jeb Bush in videos and attacking Fiorina in an interview with Rolling Stone.
Perhaps the ultimate test for Trump's new approach will come Wednesday night in the form of the second primetime GOP debate. Trump will take the stage along with 10 of his Republican opponents in a setting that some think got the best of him last time. If he doesn't bring up his feud with O'Donnell or attack one of the moderators, we should get a better sense for how seriously he's taking this new "nice" thing.
Also, let's not forget that Trump had made quite a reputation for himself before he decided to play nice. As president, it's probably not enough to decide halfway into the job that you should start handling things better.