Trump plans foreign policy speech to project ‘presidential’ image

HOLLYWOOD, Fla./WASHINGTON White House hopeful Donald Trump will give a foreign policy speech in Washington next week in an effort to project a more serious image as the Republican front-runner increasingly shifts his focus to the general election in November.

In meetings with lawmakers and at a gathering of Republican Party officials in Florida this week, Trump aides have said the speech would be part of an expanded policy roll-out by the New York billionaire.

After a major victory in his home state of New York on Tuesday, the real estate mogul said his rivals, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Governor John Kasich, had no shot at the Republican nomination for the Nov. 8 election.

Trump adviser Paul Manafort told party leaders meeting in Florida on Thursday that Trump would adopt a more presidential attitude and focus on likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, whom Manafort referred to by the nickname his boss has given her, “crooked Hillary.”

Trump will make his foreign policy speech at the National Press Club in Washington on Wednesday, his campaign said. It will come the day after a round of presidential contests – in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island – in which he is expected to do well.

Trump’s rivals have accused him of lacking foreign policy expertise and the possibility of Trump in the White House has raised concerns abroad.

In March, Trump embraced the unbreakable U.S. alliance with Israel in a speech to an influential pro-Israel lobbying group. He had drawn fire earlier for saying that, while he was pro-Israel, he would remain neutral in negotiating a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Japanese firms said in a Reuters poll that a Trump presidency would harm security partnerships. Mexico’s new ambassador to the United States vowed to combat negative publicity in the U.S. campaign after Trump accused Mexico of sending drug traffickers and rapists into the United States and vowed to build a wall at the border.

At the Republican National Committee’s Florida gathering, members played down Trump’s bluster, saying candidates always adjust their tone in a general election campaign.

“Donald Trump speaks in broad themes that resonate with the country but he also understands that there’s a more intricate process in how you run a general election campaign,” said Steve Duprey, an RNC member from New Hampshire. “They’re prepared to have the campaign pivot to that once they feel like they’ve secured the nomination.”

(Reporting by Steve Holland in Hollywood, Florida, and Doina Chiacu and Susan Cornwell in Washington; Writing by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Bill Trott)

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