In a speech on Thursday, Donald Trump expressed regret for causing "personal pain" by saying "the wrong thing."
Reading from prepared remarks to a crowd in North Carolina, Trump said, "Sometimes, in the heat of the 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, and I regret it particularly where it may have caused personal pain. Too much is at stake for us to be consumed with these issues."
Trump's acknowledgment of regret was in sharp contrast to the firm stance he's held of not backing down or apologizing for controversial remarks he has made over the course of his campaign, including criticizing the Muslim parents of a slain American soldier and saying that "Second Amendment people" could stop Hillary Clinton from appointing judges.
Despite facing backlash from his own party's leaders after engaging in a fierce war of words with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan who was killed in Iraq, Trump had expressly stated, "I don't regret anything."
In his speech Thursday, Trump reiterated that he was not a politician and that he has never been politically correct. While he did not specify which remarks he regretted, he added, "But one thing I can promise you is this: I will always tell the truth."
The speech was Trump's first following a campaign shakeup Wednesday, where he brought in Breitbart News' Stephen Bannon as CEO and promoted pollster Kellyanne Conway to campaign manager.
Conway said Friday that it was Trump's decision to express regret in his speech. "He was talking about anyone who feels offended by anything he said, and that's all him," Conway told Good Morning America. "You know, he took extra time yesterday going over that speech with a pen, so that was a decision he made. Those are his words." She said that she hoped that people who had criticized Trump for being insensitive or for mocking someone showed "some recognition and some forgiveness."
Conway also said that Trump "may" reach out to the Khan family personally. "I certainly hope that they heard him last night. And I certainly hope America heard him last night. Because of all the people who are saying 'hey, let's get Trump to pivot, let's get him to be more presidential,' that is presidential.
Hillary Clinton's campaign responded to his speech, calling it "Trump's teleprompter regret."
"Donald Trump literally started his campaign by insulting people," the campaign said in a statement. "He has continued to do so through each of the 428 days from then until now, without shame or regret. We learned tonight that his speechwriter and teleprompter knows he has much for which he should apologize. But that apology tonight is simply a well-written phrase until he tells us which of his many offensive, bullying and divisive comments he regrets—and changes his tune altogether."
Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at email@example.com.
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