GETTYSBURG, Pa. — Donald J. Trump came to this historic battlefield town Saturday to offer his vision for America’s future, saying he hoped to “heal the divisions” of the country as President Lincoln tried to do here seven score and 13 years go.
Yet in his own Gettysburg address Mr. Trump, who has been sliding in the polls less than three weeks before Election Day, did not offer much in the way of race-changing oratory and did not seem to embrace Lincoln’s unifying ambition.
Instead, the Republican nominee used the first third of what had been promoted as a major new policy speech to nurse personal grievances, grumbling about “the rigging of this election” and “the dishonest mainstream media,” and threatening to sue the nearly dozen 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,” Mr. Trump said. “The events never happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.”
And the more substantive part of the speech, intended to outline his first 100 days in office if he is elected president, did not quite live up to its billing by campaign aides, who had promised a major policy address not unlike Newt Gingrich’s 1994 “Contract with America.” Instead, a subdued Mr. Trump — who on Friday acknowledged the possibility of electoral defeat — largely repeated his existing campaign promises, from renegotiating trade deals to enforcing tougher immigration laws.
Mr. Trump’s carefully scripted presentation Saturday, with just 17 days left until Election Day, was meant to project a new level of forethought and seriousness from a man not usually associated with either. 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, handpicked crowd in a hotel conference room, was also a recognition that Mr. Trump, who trails Hillary Clinton by several percentage points in most national polls, 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.”
Mr. Trump did offer specific immigration proposals, including an “End Illegal Immigration Act” that would establish mandatory minimum prison sentences for undocumented immigrants caught illegally re-entering the country after deportation. He also said he would stop issuing visas to any country that refused to take in citizens ordered deported from the United States, a policy that would almost certainly disrupt immigration and commerce with China, which is one such country.
Mr. Trump also reiterated his promise to build a border wall with Mexico and have Mexico pay for it, though he hedged his wording a bit, saying, “the country of Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such a wall.”
Repeating earlier pledges to “drain the swamp” in Washington, Mr. Trump promised to push through a series of new ethics laws, as well as term limits for both the House and Senate. And he called for “a hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce the federal work force through attrition, exempting military, public safety and public health.”
Mr. Trump was scheduled to make two more appearances Saturday, both at large rallies. Mrs. Clinton was also out on the trail.
“Today, in what was billed as a major closing argument speech, Trump’s major new policy was to promise political and legal retribution against the women who have accused him of groping them,” the Clinton campaign said in a statement. “Like Trump’s campaign, this speech gave us a troubling view as to what a Trump State of the Union would sound like — rambling, unfocused, full of conspiracy theories and attacks on the media, and lacking in any real answers for American families.”
Mr. Trump has a long history of threatening and occasionally following though on litigation, and it was possible he was simply trying to intimidate more women from coming forward. Another accuser — she would be the 11th — was scheduled to appear later Saturday at a news conference with Gloria Allred, the women’s rights lawyer.