Trump declares ‘shackles’ off
He rips McCain, Ryan and ‘disloyal’ GOP members
WASHINGTON — Enraged by Republican politicians who’ve abandoned him, Donald Trump lashed out against his own party on Tuesday, airing grievances against conservatives who won’t support him in an embrace of intraparty warfare by a presidential nominee
Trump signaled throughout the day that pursuing his personal feud with top establishment Republicans such as House Speaker Paul Ryan or Arizona Sen. John McCain would take priority for him over preserving what unity is left in the Republican Party.
His bitter outbursts, expressed through public tweets and at a closed-door fundraiser in San Antonio, intensified the panic among Republicans that his presence atop the ticket could sink them up and down the ballot come November. Such chatter appeared to only irritate Trump further, moving the candidate to declare he would be embracing an even more caustic campaign style.
“Disloyal (Republicans) are far more difficult” than running against Clinton, Trump tweeted. “They come at you from all sides. They don’t know how to win — I will teach them!”
Trump also tweeted, “Our very weak and ineffective leader, Paul Ryan, had a bad conference call where his members went Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump signaled Tuesday that he would continue his feud with top Republicans. wild at his disloyalty.”
During the fundraising event, Trump continued to level attacks, declaring, “Sometimes it’s harder to beat our own party than it is to beat the person on the other side,” according to audio of the event obtained by The Texas Tribune.
To cap it off, Trump used strong language to declare himself free from whatever filters remained: “It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to.”
Trump then released a jarring campaign advertisement. Feeding into conspiracy theories on the right about Hillary Clinton’s health, the video implies she is an invalid too weakened by illness to protect America.
“This is the Trump that everybody was concerned about,” said Chip Felkel, a Republican operative. “All of the misgivings, all the people who had doubts that he would make a good nominee … it wasn’t just about protecting their interests in terms of Washington. It was about knowing that he’s unmanageable and that he is about Donald Trump, and that he is not about the GOP.”
The path Trump is pursuing has also intensified concern among Republicans about the enduring legacy of so-called Trumpism, and the prospects for rebuilding the party’s splintering factions after November.
Trump’s display of rage was touched off by a call Ryan held with House members on Monday in which he distanced himself from Trump and released his caucus from any obligation to support the nominee. Ryan did not withdraw his endorsement, but he said he will not be campaigning for Trump or focusing any effort in the final days of the race toward getting him elected.
Like other Republicans, Ryan had expressed disgust with the recently disclosed recording from a decade ago in which Trump boasted, using vulgar terms, that celebrities like him could grope women at will. The disclosure of the recording last week intensified the ongoing GOP mutiny. Among those who announced they were done supporting Trump was McCain, a Vietnam War veteran who lent his support to the nominee even after Trump mocked him as not being a hero because he had been a prisoner of war. McCain is campaigning for his own reelection, leading by double digits in polls.
“The very foul-mouthed Sen. John McCain begged for my support during his primary (I gave, he won), then dropped me over locker room remarks!” Trump tweeted. Trump has wavered between expressing remorse for the lewd comments on the videotape and dismissing them as inconsequential.
President Barack Obama on Tuesday urged North Carolina Democrats to take advantage of early voting and cast their presidential ballots for Clinton. Obama also delivered a sharp indictment of Republicans who continue to support Trump’s bid despite last week’s recording disclosure.
“The fact that now you’ve got people saying, ‘Well, we strongly disapprove. We really disagree. We find those comments disgusting. But we’re still endorsing him. We still think he should be president.’ That doesn’t make sense to me,” Obama told several thousand people at a Clinton rally where Trump supporters repeatedly interrupted him.
Even loyal Trump supporters are dismayed by the direction the nominee is heading.
“He’s wasting some time precious time,” said Barry Bennett, a former senior campaign adviser to Trump. “Going after the speaker — who most Americans don’t even know who he is — and John McCain, is just a waste of time.”