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Story highlights

Donald Trump's 169-page book "Crippled America" went on sale on Tuesday

On attacks about his hair, Trump concedes those barbs are aimed at where he's "most vulnerable"

Washington CNN —  

Donald Trump’s new book “Crippled America” was released Tuesday and for those following the billionaire businessman’s presidential campaign, it might sound a bit familiar at first glance.

Trump dumps on Obama and rails against the media, bringing the reader inside his much-publicized spats that have taken on new meaning in the heat of the campaign season.

Donald Trump’s latest book hits shelves: Who stands to profit?

But the 169-page book, written in billionaire’s trademark simple prose, peppered with tangents, does shed some light on Trump, the man, and how he plans to frame the future as he presses his bid for the Republican nomination.

Here’s what we learned:

1. Trump looks to blunt fiercest criticism

Trump has taken more heat for his comments on illegal immigration than any other issue after he suggested in his June announcement speech that many undocumented immigrants from Mexico are “rapists” and “killers.”

Trump has since insisted on the stump that he loves “the Mexican people,” and in “Crippled America,” Trump spotlights his change in tone.

“The vast majority” of undocumented immigrants, he writes, “are honest, decent, hardworking people who came here to improve their own lives and their children’s lives.”

“America holds so much promise, and what honest person wouldn’t want to come here to try to make a better life for himself and his children?” Trump writes.

That’s more than just Trump trying to blunt some of the criticism he’s faced on the issue. It’s an about-face compared to how Trump has criticized former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for calling illegal immigration “an act of love.”

Trump’s campaign fired off a video online that interspersed Bush’s remark with mug shots of undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes in the U.S. before words flash on screen: “Love? Forget love, it’s time to get tough!”

2. A softer side

Trump doesn’t ditch his attack-dog persona altogether – with the media taking the brunt of his attacks in this book – but Trump does appear to try and smooth over some of his rougher edges with signs of introspection, stories of family affection and touches of humor.

On attacks about his hair, Trump concedes those barbs are aimed at where he’s “most vulnerable.”

“These veteran politicians looked for the place I was most vulnerable – which is why they attacked my hair, which is mine, by the way,” Trump writes.

The most contemplative passage of the book comes as the twice-divorced Trump appears to fault himself for the breakups.

“I blame myself,” Trump writes. “I was making my mark in real estate and business, and it was very hard for a relationship to compete with that aspect of my life.”

But Trump is confident he has been a good father to his five children, three of whom are executives at his company.

“I was a much better father than I was a husband,” he writes.

And with several passages devoted to his father, it’s clear that he was a very influential figure in Trump’s life.

“My father believed he had an obligation to his tenants. His motto was simple: You do your job, you keep your job. Do it well, you get a better job. That always made sense to me,” Trump writes, adding in another chapter that his “work ethic came from my father.”

3. Conservative credentials

Trump also looks to reassure conservatives that despite his changes in party affiliation over the years – and his support for such liberal policies as universal, single-payer health care – he’s the real conservative deal.

“I switched years ago, when I began to see what liberal Democrats were doing to our country. Now I’m a conservative Republican with a big heart,” Trump writes.

But his conservatism didn’t spring out of nowhere, Trump insists.

“I didn’t decide to become a Republican. That’s who I have always been,” he writes, before touting the conservative and traditional values he claims are ingrained in him.

Still, Trump doesn’t deny his past support for a single-payer health care system, simply explaining that “the world has changed; I’ve changed. I don’t think a single-payer system makes sense anymore. If I did, I would say it.”

But still, Trump insists the liberal take on health care is right for some countries: “It works incredibly well in Scotland, for example, and maybe it could have worked here at a different time. But not anymore.”

4. Even in print, Trump stokes controversy

The new book doesn’t avoid all controversy, as Trump appears to embrace past statements that have gotten him in trouble.

Writing about the Iraq War, Trump bluntly claims that “before the war started I came out very strongly against it.”

“It made no sense to me. I said then that it would be a disaster and would destabilize the Middle East. I said that without Iraq to hold them back, Iran would attempt to take over the Middle East,” Trump writes.

That’s not true, though. The first time Trump came out publicly against the Iraq War was in the summer of 2004, in an Esquire interview published more than a year after the U.S. launched its invasion of Iraq.

And Trump, who got several student and medical deferments to avoid the Vietnam draft, also writes about knowing “all about the horrors that live in” the heads of America’s war veterans as he explains why deploying troops should be a “very last resort.”

“I’ve seen their broken bodies, know all about the horrors that live in their heads, and the enormous effects of trauma,” he writes.

Trump also raised eyebrows last week in New Hampshire when he cited a $1 million loan his father gave him early in his career as “small” – a loan worth closer to $6 million today.

It turns out Trump wrote similarly about the loan in his book, claiming that he “probably could have gotten” that type of loan from a bank.

“The billions I have? I earned every penny. When I was beginning my career my father never gave me much money, but he gave me a great work ethic,” Trump writes. “He loaned me a small amount of money – loaned, not gave – around $1 million.”

5. Trump explains the outrage

Trump has explained in his past books, sometimes he bends the truth a bit and dives headfirst into hyperbole – but it’s all part of his schtick.

Trump is blunt about the fact that he uses the media to his advantage and that he “learned a long time ago that if you’re not afraid to be outspoken, the media will write about you or beg you to come on their shows.”

“So sometimes I make outrageous comments and give them what they want – viewers and readers – in order to make a point,” Trump writes. “I’m a businessman with a brand to sell. When was the last time you saw a sign hanging outside a pizzeria claiming ‘The fourth best pizza in the world’?!”