Donald Trump starts to air campaign ads in NC

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers a campaign speech in Charlotte, N.C. Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – Donald Trump’s campaign calls his speech delivered in Charlotte Thursday the most effective speech of his general election campaign.

Political observers across the country noticed a change in Trump’s tone as he stayed on topic and read from prepared remarks. He also raised some campaign funds beforehand in the Charlotte area.

RELATED: Donald Trump to advertise in NC in a ‘major way,’ Eric Trump says

This comes as the Trump campaign undergoes major leadership changes. Campaign chairman Paul Manafort resigned Friday, days after right-wing media executive Stephen Bannon and Republican strategist Kellyanne Conway came on board.

Friday also marks the start of the Trump Campaign airing television ads in North Carolina, still considered to be a battleground state. President Obama won the state in 2008 and narrowly lost in 2012.

The latest Marist poll shows Hillary Clinton leading in North Carolina by as much as nine percentage points. She’s also leading in other battleground states, including Colorado, Florida, and Virginia.

“The air war is going to be bad,” said political science professor and Catawba College Provost Dr. Michael Bitzer. “The question is how many more bombs can you drop in a media market and not just completely saturate it and turn people off? I think that’s going to be the real test, particularly come October,” he said.

The Clinton campaign has vastly outspent the Trump campaign on television ads, according to The Center for Public Integrity, which tracks campaign ads.

The new Trump ad focuses on safety and immigration. Bitzer calls it a classic campaign ad: attack your opponent and build up your own credentials.

“What these ads are now doing, I think, is simply reinforcing those who are already converted to your cause. This is a base year election,” said Dr. Bitzer. He said the challenge for the GOP is to expand that base into more people who will be reliable and show up at the polls.

The Clinton campaign immediately responded to the ad by calling it divisive and misleading.

“North Carolina is such a key component to any path way for a Republican to win the White House,” said Dr. Bitzer. The presidential campaign visits are evidence of its importance.

Thursday, the Republican presidential nominee marked his second public visit to Charlotte since late July, when he addressed the Veterans of Foreign Wars annual convention. Hillary Clinton attended the same VFW convention and marked her first campaign speech with President Obama in Charlotte two weeks earlier.

For the first time Thursday, Trump said he regrets some of his most heated campaign statements.

The GOP nominee said during the rally that, “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. I have done that. And believe it or not, I regret it,” he says, “particularly where it may have caused personal pain.”

The rally followed two fundraising events in the Charlotte area.

Trump repeated many of his campaign themes about immigration, crime, job losses, and terrorism.

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