ORLANDO • Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has briefly set aside his self-confidence for a rare display of doubt, by acknowledging that his campaign was struggling in Utah, a usually rock-solid Republican state, and acknowledging the possibility that he could be defeated on Election Day.
The wealthy New York businessman made the comments after suffering a number of self-inflicted wounds in recent days that have given the advantage in the campaign to Democrat Hillary Clinton.
"We're having a tremendous problem in Utah," Mr Trump told a conference room filled with evangelical pastors on Thursday, blaming a "false narrative" that has been built up around his candidacy.
He has repeatedly blamed the news media for dishonest tactics.
A Survey USA opinion poll conducted for the Salt Lake Tribune in June showed Mrs Clinton and Mr Trump tied. Other polls have given Mr Trump a lead but not the type of advantage that previous Republican nominees have enjoyed in the state.
The normally confident Mr Trump never apologises and is loathe to admit that he might face difficulties. But in talking to the National Association of Home Builders earlier in Miami Beach, he admitted his past years before he became a politician could be causing him problems now.
HAUNTED BY THE PAST
We're having a tremendous problem in Utah... If I had planned for it, I wouldn't have had such a rocky path. I wouldn't have spoken to Howard so much.
MR DONALD TRUMP, referring to his frequent appearances on the often bawdy Howard Stern Show in the past.
NOT A SURE THING
At the end, it's either going to work or I'm going to, you know, I'm going to have a very, very nice long vacation.
MR TRUMP, on admitting he may not win.
"If I had planned for it, I wouldn't have had such a rocky path," he said. "I wouldn't have spoken to Howard so much."
That was a reference to his many appearances on the Howard Stern Show radio programme. He has been estimated to have appeared on the show more than two dozen times over 20 years, the conversation frequently turning ribald.
And in interviews on Thursday morning, he sounded an uncharacteristically fatalistic note, acknowledging the possibility he could be defeated on Election Day.
"At the end, it's either going to work or I'm going to, you know, I'm going to have a very, very nice long vacation," he added.
Mr Trump, who is trailing Mrs Clinton in Virginia, a formerly Republican state that Democratic President Barack Obama won in 2008 and 2012, urged evangelicals to help him in that state as well.
In doing so, Mr Trump pledged to rewrite the so-called Johnson Amendment, the 1954 change in the US tax code that prohibits church leaders from using the pulpit for political purposes.
"If we get those people to vote, we're going to win in Virginia," he said. "If they don't vote, it's not going to happen." Mr Trump also said "we need help in Ohio", the state where he held his Republican National Convention last month.
Mr Trump has seen a steady stream of moderate Republicans vow not to support him, such as Senator Susan Collins of Maine, and 50 Republican national security experts who have signed a letter opposing him.
In Utah, its population and politics - and especially its Republican politics - are dominated by Mormons.
Mr Trump's policy proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country goes against a historical and doctrinal opposition to religious discrimination among Mormons.
The thrice-married candidate's boastful and brash style also clashes with traditional Mormon ideals of leadership qualities.
REUTERS, WASHINGTON POST