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In a first, Trump says he regrets painful comments

WASHINGTON – For the first time since declaring his presidential run, Republican Donald Trump offered an extended apology to those who may have been hurt by his caustic comments, saying that he regrets some of what he’s said “in the heat of debate.”

“Sometimes in the heat of debate and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that,” the GOP nominee, reading from prepared text, said at a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina. “And believe it or not, I regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain.”

He added: “Too much is at stake for us to be consumed with these issues.” As the crowd cheered, Trump pledged to “always tell you the truth.”

The remarks came as Trump makes significant changes to a campaign that has struggled since the Democratic and Republican nominating conventions from self-created distractions. Earlier Thursday, Trump moved to invest nearly $5 million in battleground state advertising to address daunting challenges in the states that will make or break his White House ambitions. He also shook up his campaign in recent days, tapping a combative conservative media executive, Stephen Bannon, to serve as CEO of the campaign.

The New York businessman’s campaign reserved television ad space over the coming 10 days in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to Kantar Media’s political ad tracker. While Democrat Hillary Clinton has spent more than $75 million on advertising in 10 states since locking up her party’s nomination, Trump’s new investment marks his first of the general election season.

Election Day is 81 days away.

The step into swing-state advertising, which came after Trump’s second staffing shake-up in as many months, did little to alleviate the concerns of Republican officials frustrated with Trump’s refusal to adopt the tools of modern-day political campaigns.

“We may have reached the point of no return for Donald Trump,” said Republican strategist Alex Conant, a senior aide to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign.

In addition to Bannon, Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway filled the campaign manager position left vacant since Trump fired his former campaign chief almost two months ago.

But Trump struck a new, inclusive tone Thursday, as he worked to improve his dismal poll numbers among non-white voters.

“I will not rest until children of every color in this country are fully included in the American dream,” he said.

Conway insisted Thursday the new team would help re-focus the nominee, without sacrificing the authenticity that fueled his successful primary campaign.

“We’re going to sharpen the message,” she told CNN. “We’re going to make sure Donald Trump is comfortable about being in his own skin – that he doesn’t lose that authenticity that you simply can’t buy and a pollster can’t give you. Voters know if you’re comfortable in your own skin.”


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