At a speech in North Carolina on Thursday night, Donald Trump did something that still managed to shock amid a presidential campaign that seems almost impervious to shock at this point: he apologized for sometimes saying "the wrong thing."
"I will never lie to you," he told the crowd in Charlotte. "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, and believe it or not I regret it... I do regret it particularly where it may have caused personal pain."
The apology is vague and doesn't mention any one moment in particular, but presumably Trump is referring to that time he called Mexican immigrants "rapists," or dissed the Pope, or attacked a gold star family, or called for the assassination of his Democratic rival, or said Obama founded ISIS, or invited Russia to hack Clinton, or tweeted a white supremacist meme, or all of the above.
In any case, any admission of infallibility is a new and unexpected thing for Trump. He usually refuses to walk back on his wilder statements even when he's offered an easy out, so the whole thing feels a bit disingenuous.
Trump reportedly read the speech off a teleprompter—a choice he has belittled Clinton for in the past—and the apology comes fresh on the heels of a big shakeup in his senior campaign staff earlier this week, so this could be part of their influence. Whatever the case, though, Clinton thinks that it's way too late to say "sorry."
"Donald Trump literally started his campaign by insulting people. He has continued to do so through each of the 428 days from then until now, without shame or regret," Clinton's campaign wrote in a statement following his speech. "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."
Photo via Flickr user Gage Skidmore