No GOP help needed to beat Clin­ton, Trump says

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY SETH MCLAUGH­LIN

GOP lead­ers have yet to aban­don Don­ald Trump, but the pre­sump­tive Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee said this week he’s ready to kick them to the curb and go it alone against Hil­lary Clin­ton if they don’t man up.

In some of his most dis­mis­sive com­ments yet, Mr. Trump said other Repub­li­cans need to ei­ther get be­hind him or “just be quiet” — adding to the in­creas­ing heart­burn among Repub­li­cans, par­tic­u­larly those on Capi­tol Hill whose elec­toral for­tunes are tied to the er­ratic bil­lion­aire.

“You can’t make this up some­times,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said at a press brief­ing last week on Capi­tol Hill.

Mr. Trump’s ad­mo­ni­tion came af­ter sev­eral weeks of chid­ing from fel­low Repub­li­cans who de­cried his pro­posal for a tem­po­rary ban on Mus­lims en­ter­ing the U.S., and who said his at­tacks on a fed­eral judge’s eth­nic­ity were un­be­com­ing. Mr. Ryan had called it “the text­book def­i­ni­tion of a racist com­ment.”

“The Repub­li­cans, hon­estly, folks, our lead­ers, our lead­ers have to get tougher. This is too tough to do it alone. But you know what? I think I’m go­ing to be forced to. I think I’m go­ing to be forced to,” Mr. Trump said.

“Our lead­ers have to get a lot tougher. And be quiet. Just please be quiet. Don’t talk. Please be quiet. Just be quiet — to the lead­ers. Be­cause they have to get tougher. They have to get sharper. They have to get smarter. We have to have our Repub­li­cans ei­ther stick to­gether or let me just do it by my­self. I’ll do very well,” Mr. Trump in­sisted.

GOP ob­servers said Mr. Trump is play­ing with fire.

“Most peo­ple re­spond bet­ter to charm and sub­tle per­sua­sion than they do to threats, and most vic­to­ries are won by team ef­forts ver­sus lone wolves,” said Fred Malek, a White House vet­eran who serves as fi­nance chairman of the Repub­li­can Gover­nors As­so­ci­a­tion. “Trump cer­tainly knows this from his suc­cess in busi­ness, and why would he think it’s dif­fer­ent in pol­i­tics?”

Mr. Malek said vot­ers want Mr. Trump to “step up and be an in­clu­sive leader.”

But the mav­er­ick can­di­date be­gan his cam­paign on the other side of the spec­trum, ac­cus­ing Mex­ico of send­ing “rapists” and other bad el­e­ments of its so­ci­ety to the U.S.

His ap­proach ap­peared to work in the GOP pri­mary, with his crit­i­cism of fel­low politi­cians as “stupid” and “all talk, no ac­tion” earn­ing him fans from alien­ated con­ser­va­tives and mod­er­ates alike.

That has led to an un­easy re­la­tion­ship with the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee, as well as GOP law­mak­ers na­tion­ally who’ve had melt­downs over his brash brand of pol­i­tics, con­cerned that he is tar­nish­ing the party and its chance of re­tain­ing con­trol of Congress in the Novem­ber elec­tion.

This week Maryland Gov. Larry Ho­gan and Richard Armitage, who served as deputy sec­re­tary of state in the Ge­orge W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion, an­nounced they were jump­ing ship and couldn’t sup­port Mr. Trump.

Since wrap­ping up the GOP nom­i­na­tion in early May, Mr. Trump has shown some signs of will­ing­ness to work with his party.

He met with Mr. Ryan and other GOP lead­ers in Wash­ing­ton in hopes of carv­ing out a com­mon agenda that the party could rally around in the Novem­ber elec­tion.

He also has re­lied more on teleprompters in or­der to stay on mes­sage af­ter ig­nit­ing a con­tro­versy by as­sert­ing that a fed­eral judge of Mex­i­can heritage was out to get him in an on­go­ing court case in­volv­ing Trump Uni­ver­sity.

But the kum­baya mo­ments have been less com­mon than the di­vi­sive out­bursts.

Repub­li­cans on Capi­tol Hill re­peat­edly find them­selves be­ing asked to de­fend or dis­tance them­selves from the lat­est pro­nounce­ments from their pres­i­den­tial can­di­date. Some have taken to brush­ing the ques­tions aside, while oth­ers en­gage — to some ex­tent.

Mr. Ryan, speak­ing to re­porters, was asked if he would re­scind his en­dorse­ment of Mr. Trump.

“That’s not my plan,” said the Wis­con­sin Repub­li­can, who was the GOP’s vice pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee in 2012.

Mr. Ryan said too much was at stake to aban­don ship.

“We will lose our free­doms in this coun­try, in­clud­ing all of the Bill of Rights, if we don’t ro­bustly de­fend the sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers, and we’re go­ing to fight for those rights on be­half of our cit­i­zens so that we re­main a self-gov­ern­ing peo­ple,” he said.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

“The Repub­li­cans, hon­estly, folks, our lead­ers, our lead­ers have to get tougher. This is too tough to do it alone. But you know what? I think I’m go­ing to be forced to. I think I’m go­ing to be forced to,” Don­ald Trump said.

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