TV ads, resignation and ‘regret’ spell change for Trump campaign

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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S., August 18, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri - RTX2LYCV

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JUDY WOODRUFF:  Today, in the presidential campaign, a major resignation on Donald Trump’s team, new details about Hillary Clinton’s emails, and a visit to the flood zone in Louisiana.

Lisa Desjardins begins our coverage.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

LISA DESJARDINS:  For Donald Trump, a three-fold shift, first, optics.  Today, no podium or stage, but the candidate on the ground, surveying flood-ravaged Baton Rouge.

DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Nominee:  They need a lot of help.  What’s happened here is incredible.  Nobody understands how bad it is.

LISA DESJARDINS:  It was in part pushback against a vacationing President Obama, who has taken heat for not visiting.  Instead, he sent Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

JEH JOHNSON, Secretary of Homeland Security:  The federal government is here.  We have been here.  We will bee here as long as it takes to help this community recover.

LISA DESJARDINS:  Louisiana’s Democratic Governor, John Bel Edwards, would prefer politicians like Mr. Obama stay away for now.

GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D-La):  They free up the interstate for them.  We have to take hundreds of local first-responders, police officers, sheriff’s deputies and state troopers to provide security for that type of visit.

LISA DESJARDINS:  This afternoon, the White House acknowledged the governor’s concerns and said the president will visit the area Tuesday.

Something else new, a shift in Trump’s tone last night in Charlotte, North Carolina:

DONALD TRUMP:  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.

(LAUGHTER)

DONALD TRUMP:  And I do regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain.

LISA DESJARDINS:  He didn’t say which words he regretted.  In a third change, today, Trump put out his first ad buy of the election.

NARRATOR:  In Hillary Clinton’s America, the system stays rigged against Americans.

LISA DESJARDINS:  The spot will run in four key states.  Hillary Clinton’s ads have been on the air for two months.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), Presidential Nominee:  Today, we face a choice about who we are as a nation.

DONALD TRUMP:  I would like to punch him in the face, I will tell you.

HILLARY CLINTON:  Do we help each other?

DONALD TRUMP:  Knock the crap out of him, would you?

LISA DESJARDINS:  For Trump, changes on the trail come, no coincidence, amidst major changes in staff.  Campaign chairman Paul Manafort today became the second Trump campaign chief to leave in two months, this amidst lagging polls and new questions about Manafort’s work for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine.

As for Hillary Clinton, she was off the campaign trail today, but still made headlines over her use of private email as secretary of state.  The New York Times reported that Clinton told the FBI that her predecessor, Colin Powell, encouraged her to use a private email account for unclassified work.  Powell confirmed writing Clinton about the benefits of private email for unclassified material.

But, unlike Clinton, Powell didn’t use a private server.  Meanwhile, Clinton’s V.P. pick, Senator Tim Kaine, is on a Western fundraising swing, yesterday, in usual Republican states Idaho and Wyoming.  Today, it was Oregon and Washington, this weekend, California.

With two-and-a-half months to go, it’s a race for money and votes.

For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Lisa Desjardins.

DONALD TRUMP:  Good luck, everybody.

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