NEW YORK— This was the Donald Trump that Republican leaders have been waiting for: focused, systematic and, despite spraying a stream of falsehoods, ruthless in trying to destroy one person – Hillary Clinton.

Absent from a Trump campaign speech here Wednesday were references to a federal judge’s Mexican American heritage or ethnic slurs such as “Pocahontas.” The presumptive Republican presidential nominee also left out the colorful play-by-play of his exploits in the primaries and did not threaten his fellow Republicans; in fact, he never mentioned them at all.

Instead, Trump zeroed in on the “rigged” (a word he uttered 10 times) economic and political systems. The billionaire mogul promised to be a fixer, making America richer, bigger, better and stronger. And he portrayed Clinton as a “world-class liar” and a danger to the country.

In a 42-minute performance reading from teleprompters, Trump moved closer Wednesday to being the kind of general-election standard-bearer Republican leaders have been pleading with him to become. The bombastic candidate had been somewhat tamed, or so it appeared. The question was whether the same Trump would show up for the next 139 days before the November election.

“One day does not make a streak,” said Ari Fleischer, a White House press secretary under President George W. Bush. “In order for Trump to win, he has to make this election a referendum on Hillary and not on his own antics. Today, he made an effective and powerful case against Hillary. … (But) it’s the distractions and the sideshows that are killing him.”

Trump and his advisers hoped Wednesday’s address, delivered before family and friends at the Trump SoHo hotel, would help him gain solid footing after what generously can be described as a challenging first seven weeks as likely nominee.

With less than one month until Republicans gather in Cleveland, Trump is struggling to unify his fractured party and convince his doubters that he can be a disciplined candidate. He also has been locked in a defensive crouch thanks both to his own stumbles and attacks from Clinton and her allies over his temperament, policies and business record.

Trump sought to engineer a course correction by effectively hurling the opposition-research book at Clinton. Wednesday, he hit the former secretary of state, senator and first lady on her decision-making surrounding the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya; her and her husband’s paid speeches; her use of a private email server; her deep ties to Wall Street; and her past support for trade deals.

Trump also explicitly blamed Clinton for the death of J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and for general unrest there and in Egypt, Iraq and Syria.

“No secretary of state has been more wrong, more often and in more places than Hillary Clinton,” he said to applause. “Her decisions spread death, destruction and terrorism everywhere she touched.”

But he charged falsely that Clinton wants “totally open borders” and that she would admit hundreds of thousands of unvetted refugees from dangerous countries.

Trump also incorrectly stated that Clinton supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal she has opposed since last year. And he said that Clinton “has spent her entire life making money for special interests” when in fact she spent much of her career in government service or at nonprofits.

After making a vague reference to his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States, Trump said, “Hillary Clinton wants to bring in people who believe women should be enslaved and gays put to death.” He cited payments or donations that she, former president Bill Clinton or their family foundation accepted from oppressive regimes in Brunei, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.

Trump knows that there is no greater common enemy among Republicans than Clinton. By training his rhetorical fire at her, he hopes to paper over the self-induced controversies that have stymied his efforts to rally the party behind him.

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