Trump de­clares ‘shack­les’ off

He rips McCain, Ryan and ‘dis­loyal’ GOP mem­bers

Baltimore Sun - - ELECTION 2016 - By Noah Bier­man and Evan Halper As­so­ci­ated Press contributed.

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.”

DO­MINICK REUTER/GETTY-AFP

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