GETTYSBURG (Pennsylvania) • Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump came to this historic battlefield town to offer his vision for America's future, saying he hoped to heal the divisions within the country as president Abraham Lincoln tried to do here 153 years ago.
He unveiled plans for the first 100 days of his presidency if he wins, vowing to create 25 million jobs over a decade and cut middle-class taxes. His campaign team cast his 45- minute speech in Gettysburg - where Lincoln delivered his key civil war address to try to unite the nation - as his "closing arguments", with 17 days to go before Election Day.
Yet in his own "Gettysburg Address", Mr Trump, who slid 12 points behind Mrs Hillary Clinton in a national ABC poll out last night, did not offer much in the way of race-changing oratory and did not seem to embrace Lincoln's unifying ambition.
Instead, he used the first third of his speech to voice personal grievances, grumbling about "the rigging of this election" and "the dishonest mainstream media" and threatening to sue the women who have come forward to accuse him of aggressive sexual advances.
"Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign - total fabrication," he said.
And the more substantive part of the speech, intended to outline his action plan if he is elected president, did not quite live up to its billing by campaign aides, who had promised a major policy address.
Highlights of his pledges
On his first day in office, he vowed to:
•Announce his intention to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and announce the US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
•Lift restrictions on production of US$50 trillion (S$69.7 trillion) worth of US energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal.
•Cancel "billions in payments to UN climate change programmes and use the money to fix America's water and environmental infrastructure".
•Cancel "every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama".
During his first 100 days, he would work with Congress to introduce measures to boost jobs, including: "An economic plan designed to grow the economy 4 per cent per year and create at least 25 million new jobs through massive tax reduction and simplification", including deep tax cuts for the middle class.
•Boost infrastructure spending: "Leverage public-private partnerships, and private investments through tax incentives, to spur US$1 trillion in infrastructure investment over 10 years."
•Repeal and replace the Obamacare Act.
•End Illegal Immigration Act - which involves building a wall with Mexico and imposes prison terms for people illegally re-entering the US.
•He also pledged measures to clean up Washington. This includes proposing a constitutional amendment to limit the term of all members of Congress; a hiring freeze on all federal employees; imposing limits on lobbyists, including a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for US elections.
Instead, a subdued Mr Trump - who last Friday acknowledged the possibility of defeat - largely repeated his existing campaign promises, from renegotiating trade deals to enforcing tougher immigration laws.
His carefully scripted presentation last Saturday was meant to project a new level of forethought and seriousness. His proposals had legislative titles like the "Affordable Child Care and Elder Care Act" and the "Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act". The speech, given before a small, hand-picked crowd in a conference room, was also a recognition that he needs to establish himself as someone with the discipline and temperament to lead the nation.
"Hillary Clinton is not running against me; she's running against change," he said. "And she's running against all of the American people and all of the American voters."
He did offer specific immigration proposals, including an "End Illegal Immigration Act" that would establish mandatory minimum prison sentences for unauthorised immigrants caught illegally re-entering the country after deportation.
He also reiterated his promise to build a border wall with Mexico.
"Our campaign represents the kind of change that only arrives once in a lifetime," Mr Trump, 70, told his supporters.
"We now find ourselves at that very special fork in the road. Do we repeat the mistakes of the past or do we choose to believe that a great future, yet unwritten, lies ahead for us and for our wonderful, beloved country?" he asked, before adding: "I think it does. I know it does."
Clinton campaign spokesman Christina Reynolds called Mr Trump's Gettysburg remarks a preview of what a Trump State of the Union address would resemble. "Rambling, unfocused, full of conspiracy theories and attacks on the media and lacking any real answers for American families," she said.
At her own rally last Saturday in Pennsylvania, Mrs Clinton devoted much of her speech to the state's contentious Senate race, putting in an extended plug for Democratic candidate Katie McGinty and attacking Republican incumbent Pat Toomey for not denouncing Mr Trump for his vulgar remarks about women.
"You probably know people who are thinking about voting for Donald Trump," she told the crowd of 1,800 gathered in a high school gymnasium.
"Here's what I want you to tell them: Tell them that I understand they need a president who cares about them, will listen to them, and I want to be their president, too."
NYTIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE