With fewer than 90 days until Americans cast their vote for the next president on Nov. 8, Donald Trump is caught in a rough patch that – for the first time – he may not be able to wriggle his way out of.
TIME magazine examines Trump’s “summer meltdown” in its Aug. 22 issue, writing that since his convention in Cleveland last month, the presidential nominee “has done almost nothing right by traditional standards.”
So far, Trump’s untraditional ways have served him well. But after a tumultuous two weeks that included feuds with top Republicans and with the parents of a slain Muslim-American soldier, an invitation for Russian hackers to find Hillary Clinton‘s missing emails, and most recently, an apparent joke about gun enthusiasts doing away with the Democratic nominee, Trump’s antics are finally taking their toll at the polls. He now trails Clinton by an average of 8 points in recent national polls.
But – despite his new struggles to reach a broader electorate in the general election – this is the Donald Trump many of his loyal supporters know and love.
In an Aug. 9 interview with TIME, a seemingly somewhat deflated Trump describes doing what heretofore may have seemed unthinkable for him – suppressing his instincts and taking his cues from seasoned political advisers. Still, he questions whether this version of Trump is really what the people want.
“I am now listening to people that are telling me to be easier, nicer, be softer. And you know, that’s okay, and I’m doing that,” Trump tells TIME. “Personally, I don’t know if that’s what the country wants.”
Hillary Clinton on Donald Trump: ‘We Were Not Friends’
Looking back on his success in the Republican primaries, Trump boasts, “I got 14 million votes and won most of the states. I’m liking the way I ran in the primaries better.”
But as he comes to terms with the fact that the general election is a whole new ballgame, Trump’s trademark braggadocio appears to be dwindling.
“All I can do is tell the truth,” he says. “If that does it, that’s great. And if that doesn’t do it, that’s fine too.”