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Trump revels in the energy provided by the crowd, made up mostly of white, working-class voters, as he delivers hour-long speeches largely without notes — and never with a teleprompter.Trump rode such events to great success in the primaries, when each of Trump's eyebrow-raising statements — including a moment when he appeared to mock a disabled journalist and his repeated retelling of a debunked story about U. soldiers dipping bullets in pig's blood — earned him a tremendous amount of attention and carried little electoral consequence."He tries to amp up the crowd, which he's very good at," said former Trump adviser Barry Bennett, who said the rallies may be large, but don't represent the broader coalition of voters who typically decide general elections.
They have a hard time understanding what he's doing."Among that more diverse and moderate general electorate, polls find Trump trailing Clinton nationally and in most battleground states.
The Democratic nominee's emerging advantage comes at a key moment after both political conventions are over, when the state of a presidential race tends to stabilize and leads are difficult to surmount.
After the Democratic convention, Trump sparked days of outrage across the political spectrum by repeatedly criticizing a Muslim family whose son died fighting the war in Iraq.
He further alarmed Republican leaders when he declared he wasn't ready to endorse House Speaker Paul Ryan — a stance he later reversed.
After winning state after state while bouncing between controversies in the GOP primaries, Trump is still stumbling on the stump.
His latest unforced mishap: an off-hand remark that critics quickly slammed as a suggestion that gun-rights backers should take a literal shot at Hillary Clinton should she win the White House.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to medical professionals after taking a tour of Borinquen Health Care Center, in Miami, Fla., Tuesday, Aug. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) But rather than continuing to float above the criticism, Trump is losing ground in preference polls and alienating prominent Republicans by the day.
Even some of his supporters worry Trump's lack of a filter is hurting his White House chances, a concern they say has only grown in recent weeks."You'd think it would be pretty simple for a grown man to keep his mouth shut sometimes," said Seth Walls, 18, a landscaper from Whitetop, Virginia, who attended his first Trump rally on Wednesday.
"These Twitter rants and things he does in the media, I definitely think it's hurting him."With early voting set to begin next month in several states, time is running short for Trump to make a major change in his approach.
As he did in the primaries, the billionaire continues to dismiss guidance from senior Republicans, in and out of his campaign.
He has yet to return to running television ads even as Clinton fills the airwaves, and leads a campaign team that remains badly understaffed.
But it's not a surprise the latest flap springs from a Trump rally, the centerpiece of his campaign.