On Tuesday night, a surprisingly mellow Donald Trump sat down with Late Show host Stephen Colbert for a very low-key interview. But it might be the last we see of the billionaire's quiet side, as Trump's attempt at being normal doesn't appear to be working for him. Maybe he was getting tired of being angry all the time, or maybe it was a new tactic, but the past few weeks have seen a very different Trump.
It began with his much-anticipated debate performance, which started out fiery but then quickly fizzled out. Despite the fact that the other candidates were encouraged to attack the billionaire as much as possible during the second Republican primary debate, Trump was fairly quiet and reserved. Following the first debate, during which Trump generated a media firestorm that lasted for weeks, he saw a bump in his poll numbers. But there were no zany antics or too overly offensive statements in the September 16 debate. Instead, America saw a quiet, seemingly normal, rather lackluster Trump.
And things have been relatively quiet on the Trump beat lately. No epic feuds, not too many drawn-out Twitter rants. In fact, the only truly controversial campaign moment during the past few weeks was Trump's failure to correct a man who claimed that President Obama is Muslim. But by his standards, that's a pretty light media week.
But whether it was intentional or not, the reserved, easygoing Trump who appeared across from Colbert isn't working. That Trump nodded along to deprecating jokes, avoided his typical catchphrases, and even refused to take the bait the multiple times that Colbert goaded him. And though many would view that as pretty normal for an average politician, it might be losing Trump his supporters.
He's still in the lead, but he's beginning to slip, according to a recently released CNN/ORC poll. It's not fully accurate to say that Trump's number slump is because of his newfound mellowness — but some could certainly see it that way. And it appears that Trump might be part of the group correlating his lack of Twitter rants to his dropping numbers.
So The Donald is back. Over the weekend, he shot off a Tweet dissing Carly Fiorina's previous job performance. On Tuesday, he threatened the conservative organization Club for Growth with legal action, calling their increasing pressure against Trump's policy points "libel." And on Wednesday, he declared full-out war on a formidable enemy: Fox News.
After sniping at Megyn Kelly after the first debate and setting his sights on Bill O'Reilly the past week, on Wednesday, Trump announced that he "won't be doing any more Fox shows for the foreseeable future," due to what he considers unfavorable treatment by the network. The Tweet came shortly before news that The O'Reilly Factor had canceled his interview for Thursday.
"When coverage doesn’t go his way, he engages in personal attacks on our anchors and hosts, which has grown stale and tiresome," read a press release from a Fox News spokesman regarding Trump's boycott. "He doesn’t seem to grasp that candidates telling journalists what to ask is not how the media works in this country." Whether he grasps it or not, Trump might not care. His previous attacks on media have seen marked increases in his polling. A feud against Fox News, as futile as it may be, could be Trump's attempt to save a campaign heading toward a downward spiral.
That's not to say that Trump is going anywhere any time soon. But as his campaign begins to lose steam, the candidate might up his antics in order to generate media buzz. He knows what his core supporters like, and he's going to cling to that. "I'm so tired of this politically correct crap" he told crowds on Wednesday, using a buzzword that automatically elicits approval among GOP supporters.
The Trump whom America grew to love/hate this summer might be back, larger and louder than ever, and dedicated to riding his slowly sinking campaign all the way to the bottom.