Trump is known for bucking conservative orthodoxy but, on Thursday, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee largely hewed to the typical Republican line. Reading from a teleprompter, Trump called for reducing restrictions on energy exploration, opening up more federal lands to drilling, and reducing dependence on foreign oil. He said he would try to reopen negotiations to build the Keystone XL pipeline, which President Obama rejected. Trump railed against the "totalitarian tactics" of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Donald Trump has never had much of a policy agenda, and his campaign has no real policy platform, so when the presumptive Republican presidential nominee announces plans to deliver a substantive speech, it's generally a good idea to take notice. Yesterday, for example, Trump traveled to North Dakota to outline his approach to energy.
But if anyone was looking for something new or interesting in the candidate's thinking, they came away empty handed. MSNBC's Benjy Sarlin reported:
Seventeen Republicans ran for president this cycle, and literally all of them could have delivered the exact same speech. The GOP candidate likes oil drilling, hates the EPA, hates the Paris climate agreement just as much, loves coal and fracking, couldn't care less about renewable energy, and prefers to pretend climate change doesn't exist. He vowed to prioritize clean air and clean water, while at the same time, scrapping pretty much every environmental safeguard that helps guarantee clean air and clean water.
If it sounded like the kind of speech an energy lobbyist might write, that's probably because it was.
All of which served as a reminder: for all the talk about how different Donald Trump is, he's evolving into yet another conventional Republican candidate. Last year, he was a presidential hopeful with no mega-donors, no pollsters, and no need to stick to GOP orthodoxy. Now, Trump is relying on mega-donors and pollsters, while saying the same things every Republican says.
As we discussed last week, Trump is now just an inexperienced, unqualified version of his GOP predecessors.
And that, alas, includes his sudden embrace of teleprompters.
Just so we're clear, I don't care who uses teleprompters and who doesn't. The right took up this issue after President Obama was elected, and the entire line of attack can charitably be described as puerile.
But as recently as Tuesday -- as in this week, May 24 -- Trump told an audience that he'd like to see a law banning politicians from using teleprompters. Literally two days later -- May 26 -- there was Trump, carefully reading his energy speech from a teleprompter, just as he did last month with his foreign policy speech.
It wasn't long ago that Trump boasted, "When you're really, really, really smart like me ... I don't need teleprompters." Except genuinely smart people don't feel the need to tell everyone how smart they are, and as the New York Republican keeps demonstrating, he does need teleprompters.