Some of Donald Trump's strongest conservative supporters are already expressing disappointment over his perceived backdown on major campaign promises.

In an interview with The New York Times this week, the President-elect took a different tone to the unapologetically brash remarks and promises that arguably helped him to win the race.

Suddenly, the man who vowed to jail his opponent Hillary Clinton if he entered the White House - the man who inspired tens of thousands to chant "Lock her up!" at all his rallies - was expressing compassion for her.

The man who repeatedly disregarded climate change as everything from a "hoax" to a "creation by the Chinese" was vowing to keep an open mind on taking action on global warming.

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The man who unapologetically vowed to ban Muslims, deport millions of immigrants and build a wall to "keep out Mexicans" was outright condemning the racial hate movement that hailed him as their leader.

A number of his extreme-right supporters have voiced their frustration.

Writer and commentator Ann Coulter, who openly supported Trump for president from the beginning of the campaign, criticised him for backing down on Clinton.

Conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh made a similar criticism on his public Facebook page, saying he's hearing from people who are "livid at Hillary" and wanted Trump to investigate her.

Are any of you out there worried that it means something bad that Trump has decided not to prosecute Hillary? I'm just...

Posted by Rush Limbaugh on Tuesday, 22 November 2016

So where exactly has Trump 'back-pedalled', and is it really evidence that he's changed?

TRUMP ON CLINTON

During a debate Donald Trump promised he'd get his Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor to look into Hillary Clinton. Photo / AP
During a debate Donald Trump promised he'd get his Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor to look into Hillary Clinton. Photo / AP

The FBI's investigation into Clinton's email server was a key part of Trump's campaign against her.

He emphasised it in every debate, repeatedly referred to her as 'Crooked Hillary', and vowed to pursue further investigations if he won the election.

During one presidential debate, he told Clinton that if he won the presidency, she would "be in jail".

With all this in mind, it came as a disappointing surprise to some of his supporters when he expressed compassion for his former rival, even acknowledging how harsh the campaign became.

"I don't want to hurt the Clintons. I really don't," he said. "She went through a lot. And suffered greatly in many different ways. And I am not looking to hurt them at all. The campaign was vicious. They say it was the most vicious primary and the most vicious campaign."

TRUMP ON CLIMATE CHANGE

President-elect Donald Trump when he was on the campaign trail . Photo / AP
President-elect Donald Trump when he was on the campaign trail . Photo / AP

Throughout his campaign, Donald Trump openly refused to accept scientific evidence of climate change.

He vowed to dismantle the Paris Agreement, a multinational action plan to limit global warming consisting of nearly 200 countries.

He's put out dozens of tweets rejecting scientific evidence of climate change as credible, and implied the United States shouldn't waste "financial resources" on it.

But when asked by New York Times reporter Thomas Friedman if he would take America out of the world's lead on confronting climate change, Trump said he has "an open mind" to it.

He continued to express scepticism, saying there's "few things where there's more division than climate change". But when pressed, he admitted he thinks "there is some connectivity" between uman activity and global warming.

Quite a change from the man who dismissed climate change as a creation by the Chinese.

TRUMP ON RACISM

President-elect Donald Trump in Trump Tower in New York. Photo / AP
President-elect Donald Trump in Trump Tower in New York. Photo / AP

Donald Trump repeatedly caused global outrage over his campaign based on his outlandish comments about minority groups.

Earlier this year, he said the United States should seriously consider "profiling" Muslims and at one point suggested banning them from entering the country altogether.

He also made the infamous pledge to build a wall to keep out Mexicans, and has vowed to deport all illegal immigrants.

His repeated controversies over racism have arguably validated the voice of the 'alt-right'-a right-wing movement with which even Neo-Nazis identify themselves.

Just this week, disturbing footage of self-proclaimed 'alt-right' members went viral, after they shouted 'Hail Trump!' while giving the Nazi salute.

But in the New York Times interview, Trump disavowed the white nationalist movement, saying he couldn't think of anything he may have done to inspire them.

When asked if he feels like his previous remarks have energised the group, he repeatedly stressed he "doesn't want to energise the group".

"It's not a group I want to energise, and if they are energised I want to look into it and find out why," he said. "What we do want to do is we want to bring the country together, because the country is very, very divided."

It's a softened shift from his arguably more divisive racial politics in the lead-up to the election.

TRUMP ON OBAMACARE

Donald Trump vowed to
Donald Trump vowed to "repeal and replace Obamacare" during the campaign. Photo / AP

Repealing Obamacare was one of Donald Trump's key election promises, but he softened his stance in the aftermath of the election.

He told interviewers that, after meeting with President Barack Obama, he may keep elements of the act in place that prevent insurers from dropping people with pre-existing conditions, and allowing people under 25 to stay on their parents' policy.

He went from threatening to "repeal and replace" the act to possibly just "amending" it when he spoke to the Wall Street Journal.

"Either Obamacare will be amended - or repealed and replaced," Trump told the newspaper.

"I told (President Obama) I will look at his suggestions and, out of respect, I will do that."

That said, his Vice President-elect Mike Pence has more recently voiced a harder stance, saying the health care law will be moved right "out of the gate" upon taking office.

He said Trump's focus will be on "replacing Obamacare with the kind of free-market solutions that he campaigned on".

BUT ARE THESE REALLY SIGNS OF A 'NEW TRUMP'?

In short, probably not.

John Hart, a Research Fellow in the School of History at the Australian National University, doesn't believe there was any great policy work to begin with.

"All he's done is add to the uncertainty of what a Trump presidency will look like," he told news.com.au. "Now it just depends which version of Trump will end up in the White House."

He said Trump's biggest challenge will be keeping Republicans in Congress on board with him, particularly with the midterm elections in 2018.

Preside-elect Donald Trump has made several key appointments to his Cabinet. Big names such as Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani are said to be in the running for Secretary of State. Photo / AP
Preside-elect Donald Trump has made several key appointments to his Cabinet. Big names such as Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani are said to be in the running for Secretary of State. Photo / AP

The problem is they're heavily divided on a number of issues. For example, Trump is opposed to America's involvement in NATO and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, while the Republicans have traditionally been a pro-free-trade party.

Trump's racial policies could also prove problematic ahead of the midterm elections.

"A number of Republicans in Congress are dubious about Trump building the wall along Mexico, not just because of racial implications and the harm it would do to America, but for the cost," said Dr Hart.

"At the very least, they'll expect to be partners in government - they'll expect to be consulted. Taking advice from others is not something Trump is known for."

He said this presents a particular problem for Trump, because exit poll evidence showed a strong correlation between support for his presidency and support for building the wall.

In other words, backtracking on the wall could hurt his key support base, but building the wall will further damage his relationship with Congress. It's a lose-lose.

"Again, there's a hell of a lot of uncertainty," said Dr Hart. "It could be a very troubled relationship. Just because a president has his own party in control of the White House and Congress doesn't make a formula for success."

He warned Trump needs to avoid extreme policies, make a conscious effort to listen to and engage with Congress, and not see himself as a sole ruler.

"Trump has got a lot of elements of facism," said Dr Hart. "His view about the sole ruler - it's like Mussolini, like Franco, like Hitler. They all believe there should be one ruler.

"His number one priority going into the White House should be Republican control of Congress."

All in all, it's not off the mark to predict trouble is certainly on its way.

And it's not because Trump has changed. It's because he hasn't.