How Trump is instantly morphing into a general election candidate

Story highlights

  • Trump has abandoned his self-funding pitch
  • He also is changing positions on minimum wage

(CNN)Donald Trump is already changing.

In his first 36 hours as the presumptive Republican nominee, Trump abandoned his self-funding pitch, which has been intrinsic to his appeal to voters disenchanted with special interest politics and suggested he would moderate his views on two key domestic policy issues.
    The shifts follow a deluge of warnings from conservative activists throughout the GOP primary that Trump is not a "true conservative" and would betray his conservative supporters, and they come weeks after Trump slapped down the assertion floated by Paul Manafort, one of his top advisers, that he would evolve from "the part that he's been playing," reassuring supporters that while he "may act differently."
    "Everything I said I'm going to do folks. I do, OK? Believe me," Trump said at a rally late last month after his convention manager Manafort presaged Trump would shift -- at least in tone -- after locking up the nomination.
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    Campaign funding

    Trump announced Wednesday in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that he would build a "world-class finance organization" and raise funds for his general election campaign. And on Thursday he tapped a veteran Wall Street banker as his national finance chairman to lead the effort.
    The billionaire has at nearly every one of his rallies reminded his supporters that "I am self-funding my campaign," sharing stories of deep-pocketed donors and lobbyists offering to sign multi-million dollar checks to support his bid. It's also one of the messages that has resonated most strongly among his supporters, who frequently point to the fact that he is "not bought and paid for" as the first reason they were attracted to his outsider candidacy.
    Trump has even asked his supporters how they would feel about him accepting donations or the backing of a super PAC. At some rallies, he's told supporters he feels "stupid" for refusing the money and asked them whether he should take the money.
    Each time, the crowd's response was a loud and unmistakable, "No!"
    Still, Trump has portrayed his self-funding ability as integral to his campaign and his ability to govern on behalf of average Americans, not special interests. And in August he even said he would be willing to spend $1 billion of his own money to finance a general election campaign.
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    Minimum wage

    Trump in his first day as the presumptive nominee also offered a glimpse at how he would moderate some of his policy positions to appeal to the general electorate.
    While he asserted several times during his primary campaign that the U.S. should not raise the $7.25 per hour federal minimum wage and that "having a low minimum wage is not a bad thing for this country," Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee Wednesday changed his tune.
    "I'm actually looking at that because I'm actually very different from most Republicans," Trump told CNN's Wolf Blitzer when asked about Democrats' calls for raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
    "I'm open to doing something with it because I don't like that," he said of the current minimum wage. He predicted he would win over "a lot" of progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders' supporters in the general election should Hillary Clinton clinch the Democratic nomination.
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    Taxes

    And on Thursday morning Trump also wavered on the sweeping, across-the-board tax cuts he proposed during the primary, suggesting he might, in fact, raise the reduced tax rate he had proposed for the wealthiest Americans.
    "I am not necessarily a huge fan of that," Trump said on CNBC when asked about his tax plan delivering massive benefits to the top 1% of Americans.
    "When you put out a tax plan, you are going to start negotiating. You aren't going to say, 'OK, this is our tax plan, lots of luck, folks,'" Trump said. "During a negotiation I could see that going up. I don't want middle to go up at all. But I could see that going up. And I think that probably will happen, because it's a cut for everybody and, you know, the wealthy have done well."
    The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment seeking more clarity on Trump's remarks.
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    'Everything is negotiable'

    But Trump has not been entirely disingenuous with his supporters.
    He has repeatedly emphasized throughout the campaign that he believes in negotiation and compromise in governance -- playing up his own deal-making abilities and slapping down his then-rival Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for favoring ideological purity over consensus-building.
    "Compromise is not a dirty word, but we have to get a much better part of the compromise," Trump told CNN's Anderson Cooper in February.
    And when he took heat from the right over a report claiming he suggested in an off-the-record meeting with The New York Times that his immigration views are more flexible than the hardline stances he has adopted, Trump didn't entirely refute the allegation.
    "Everything is negotiable," he said.