In what appears to be a damage-control move in the backdrop of declining numbers on national opinion polls, Republican US presidential nominee Donald Trump has said that he regrets past remarks that may have "caused personal pain."
"Sometimes, in the heat of debate and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don't choose the right words or you say the wrong thing," Trump said at a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina on Thursday night. "I have done that, and I regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain. Too much is at stake for us to be consumed with these issues."
He did not, however, specifically pinpoint which remarks from his past speeches that he was apologising for in Thursday's address.
VIDEO: Trump offers apology to those who may have been hurt by his caustic comments "in the heat of debate." https://t.co/1Z3xh0EqjM
— The Associated Press (@AP) August 19, 2016
Although Trump expressed regret for the controversial comments, he did not show any let up in criticising his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, as he accused her of being dishonest.
"So while sometimes I can be too honest, Hillary Clinton is the exact opposite: She never tells the truth," Trump said. "In this journey, I will never lie to you. I will never tell you something I do not believe."
Clinton rejects apology
Hillary Clinton quickly dismissed the apology, saying: "Donald Trump literally started his campaign by insulting people."
"We learned tonight that his speechwriter and teleprompter knows he has much for which he should apologise," the campaign said in a statement.
"But that apology tonight is simply a well-written phrase until he tells us which of his many offensive, bullying and divisive comments he regrets - and changes his tune altogether."
Trump’s controversial remarks
Trump had drawn severe criticism in the country and from across the world and even from within his own party for issuing controversial statements time after time during his campaign for the November 8 presidential election.
His remarks targeting Mexican immigrants, Muslims and Pope Francis are among his most controversial public statements.
Trump faced strong criticism from all directions after he belittled a family of a Muslim American soldier who died in Iraq in 2004 while serving his country. His remarks came after the father of the soldier spoke out against Trump at the Democratic National Convention last month.
It doesn't matter what Trump regrets. He'll say new stuff in 36 or 48 hours. Everybody in an abusive relationship of any sort knows this.
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) August 19, 2016
Trump doesn't regret being a racist, sexist, bigoted xenophobe. He regrets being called out and losing support for being one.
— Marv (@Marv_Vien) August 19, 2016
Trump's regret is exactly like a job interview where you say your greatest weakness is that you work too hard.
— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) August 18, 2016
Shift in strategy
Trailing Clinton in national opinion polls, Trump has tried to reset his campaign, announcing a shake-up on Wednesday of his senior campaign staff for the second time in less than two months.
In the past week, he had abandoned his free-wheeling style of campaigning, instead using a teleprompter at every rally.
Trump also began adding non-rally events to his campaign schedule, visiting a police lodge on Thursday afternoon and hosting a roundtable on Wednesday morning.