With AIPAC speech, Trump campaign enters a new phase

Donald Trump’s first use of a teleprompter in a campaign speech was newsworthy in its own right and drew the expected amount of snark from the hostile media.  And his half-hour-plus speech (embedded below) was not a flawless performance, with two major gaffes: referring three times to “Palestine” as if a U.S.-recognized state actually exists (something taboo among pro-Israel groups) and employing his customary braggadocio and drawing open laughter from the crowd.  Referring to the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal, he claimed:

I’ve studied this issue in great detail. I would say actually greater by far than anybody else.

But for all these minor faults, he still seemed to win over a crowd that contained a lot of skeptics, and which saw a walkout by a virtue-signaling faction that included a number of rabbis who could not soil themelves by being in his presence.  While he received underwhelming applause when entering the arena, he received standing ovations at points through his speech, and when he left, the applause was noticeably louder than that which greeted him.  He may have won over a comparatively small number of attendees, but he undoubtedly diminished the level of hostility many had brought with them to his speech.

It was very clear to me that Trump has made the decision to transform from insurgent, speaking off the cuff to enthusiastic crowds, to presidential – at least when addressing important audiences that expect foreign and domestic policy sophistication and substance.  The reaction of the AIPAC crowd, which has to be one of the more sophisticated policy-oriented groups of 10,000 or more listeners one could assemble, showed that he is making a fairly impressive start.

We’ve never seen a candidacy the likes of Trump’s, full of surprises and confounding just about every “expert” pronouncement.  I suspect that a lot of AIPAC attendees and members of the television audience were once again surprised yesterday to see Trump seeming to become almost presidential in their eyes.  

Here is the entire speech:

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