WASHINGTON — For nearly 24 hours, Donald Trump was quiet.

As Hillary Clinton waded through the most perilous stretch of her campaign to date, the GOP presidential nominee held his tongue, allowing amateur footage of his foe stumbling after falling ill to play over and over on TV without his commentary.

The episode underscored a new political reality: After more than a year of off-the-cuff comments and chaotic cleanup, Trump’s campaign seems to have found its footing.

Over the past four weeks, with a new leadership team in place, Trump has largely done away with his free-wheeling rallies, replacing them with teleprompter-guided speeches. While he is by no means a typical candidate — he derisively referred to Sen. Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas” and questioned the integrity of the FBI and Department of Justice during a morning show call-in on Monday — he has nonetheless refined many of his campaign’s rougher edges. He’s trying to broaden his appeal and win over the moderate and independent voters he’ll need if he hopes to win.

Gone are the endless attacks on his former GOP rivals and his aversion to more intimate campaign events. He has even lifted his extraordinary ban on credentialing particular news outlets he’s deemed unfair.

And on the worst weekend of Hillary Clinton’s year, Trump stayed largely silent and let her problems make the headlines.

Trump’s team had already imposed a day of silence order for Sept. 11, asking supporters to refrain from news interviews and suspending outright campaigning as the nation marked the anniversary of the attacks on the Twin Towers and Pentagon.

But Team Trump even kept quiet Sunday as the news dripped out about Clinton — confusion about where she’d gone after feeling “overheated,” video of her needing assistance and then stumbling while entering a van, her campaign’s eventual revelation that she’d been diagnosed with pneumonia. There were no gloating tweets, no “told-you-so’s” from supporters who’ve been pushing conspiracy theories about her health.

When Trump re-emerged, in a pair of early-morning phone interviews with friendly TV stations, he was restrained and reserved, at least on the topic of Clinton’s health.

“Something’s going on,” he said on “Fox and Friends, “but I just hope she gets well and gets back on the trail and we’ll be seeing her at the debate.”

Trump’s tone surprised even long-time supporters like Barry Bennett, a former adviser to his campaign.

“That’s the most remarkable thing I’ve seen out of the Trump campaign so far,” said Bennett, adding that, “the old Donald Trump would have gone straight to Twitter.”

“He’s frankly a much better candidate,” Bennett said, making the case that, if Trump can stay on message for the next seven weeks, he can win in November.

Jason Miller, Trump’s senior communications adviser, credited the discipline to Trump himself, saying that, after months of campaigning, the political novice has seen what works.

“What he’s finding now are the best ways to articulate and implement his vision,” Miller said, describing the strategy as “letting Trump be Trump – but with discipline.”

The new message control follows the campaign’s latest leadership shake-up, including the promotion of Kellyanne Conway to campaign manager.

Under her guidance, Trump still veers off-script sometimes. But the candidate who once called for outlawing teleprompters for presidential candidates now rarely speaks without reading from one.

At a casual “Roast and Ride” event in Iowa last month that featured a long list of elected officials, Trump’s staff awkwardly halted the flow of speakers so the devices could be assembled ahead of his remarks.

With the prepared speeches has come a more professional communications apparatus. Trump’s team now often previews his speeches to reporters and sends out excerpts and transcripts to aid with stories.

Trump’s schedule has evolved as well. He’s been holding more intimate events, including roundtables with small groups like miners and military spouses. Last week, he met with about a dozen students, teachers and parents at an Ohio charter school, where he sat at a child-size desk.

The smaller events mean Trump is spending less time in front of fiery rally crowds— crowds that chant “Lock her up!” at the mention of Clinton and wear shirts emblazoned with slogans like “Trump that bitch!” — prompting the asides that often get him in trouble.

Rep. Chris Collins, a longtime Trump supporter, said he believes the campaign team, under Conway’s guidance, now has Trump “where he needs to be for the last eight weeks.”

Even some of Trump’s most vocal critics praised his response both over the weekend and over the last month or so.

Tim Miller, a Republican strategist who helped run an anti-Trump super PAC during the primaries, said that Trump had shown “surprising restraint, to be honest” in responding to Clinton’s health episode.

Nonetheless, Miller said he is doubtful about how long it will last and how much it will matter.

“All Trump has done in the last month,” he said, “is turn what would have been a landslide into a more standard-fare loss.”


Associated Press writer Steve Peoples contributed to this report.