CANTON, Ohio — Donald Trump on Wednesday evening went back to ignoring his TelePrompter and hit old favorite campaign themes in front of throngs of fans — and took a swipe a Hillary Clinton's weekend health issues.
The night was a departure from recent tone, cadence, and presentation for the Republican nominee, who has — for the most part — been scripted and dedicated to prepared speeches since he installed long-time Republican strategist Kellyanne Conway as his campaign manager last month.
On Wednesday night, Trump gave up the measured tone, mostly ignored his prepared remarks and, feeling the heat in an otherwise chilly arena, he wondered whether Clinton could hold a rally like this.
“You think Hillary would be able to stand up here for an hour and do this?" he mused. "I don’t think so."
Trump has questioned Clinton’s stamina before, but the comments take on new meaning after the Democratic nominee's episode at New York City's 9/11 memorial and the revelation of a pneumonia diagnosis over the weekend.
"Now we have one [opponent] left, and in all fairness, she's lying in bed getting better, and we want her better," Trump said. "We want her back on the trail. Right? We want her back on the trail."
One sentence earlier, he described knocking out his 17 primary opponents like “boom, boom, boom” — an old refrain from the primaries.
Both Clinton and Trump released medical information earlier on Wednesday. Clinton via a detailed statement from her doctor, and Trump by way of TV star Dr Mehmet Oz, in a show that will air Thursday.
Continuing with his retro topic choice, Trump took the chance to mention the “famous escalator” that he sailed down on the day of his announcement, as well as kicked off his rally with talk of — what else? — polls.
Despite noting that things look “pretty close” poll wise, Trump still couldn’t quite bring himself to say Clinton could be president.
"As soon as she gets — oh let’s not say it!” Trump squirmed. “I can’t say it, I can’t say it but I’ll say it: if she gets elected," Trump mused. Should that happen, he predicted devastation for the country.
Promising openness to all voters, Trump told the crowd: "I’m willing to campaign anywhere. I’m willing to go anywhere, visit anywhere, even if some voters openly oppose me in a community, that’s fine, that’s their prerogative. I will listen and represent them if and when we win."
The comments served as a continued reminder of Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” comment — which Trump is trying to capitalize on by claiming to be the candidate who will fight for every American's vote, whether they like him or not.
Of course, Trump's rally's are mostly white, ardent fans, and he’s focused heavily on traditional battlegrounds like Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Michigan — despite promises that he would put historically Democrat-leaning states in play this season.
And Trump’s Canton stop was not his only appearance in a battleground state on Wednesday. Earlier he spent time in Flint at a water treatment plant and a Methodist church. Despite telling the crowd he went to Flint “to address the water crisis,” he did not speak at length about the issue during his time there. Instead, he took the opportunity to talk about the Flint water crisis at his rally.
"Today I went to Flint to address the water crisis. The water crisis in Flint demonstrates failure at every single level of government. Gross incompetence,” he said. "It’s tragic and it's heartbreaking and it should never happen in the United States of America."