Unusu­ally hum­ble, Trump en­ter­tains the no­tion of los­ing

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

OR­LANDO — Stray­ing from his trade­mark bravado, Don­ald Trump ac­knowl­edged on Thurs­day that his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign is fac­ing chal­lenges and could ul­ti­mately fall short, in a rare ex­pres­sion of hu­mil­ity by the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee.

Trump’s most ex­plicit con­ces­sion came as he pleaded for sup­port at a gath­er­ing of evan­gel­i­cal min­is­ters, where Trump ob­served he was “hav­ing a tremen­dous prob­lem in Utah”. It came the same day the bil­lion­aire celebrity ac­knowl­edged that his lack of po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness could cost him the elec­tion if Amer­i­cans re­ject his blunt ap­proach.

“We’re hav­ing a prob­lem,” Trump told the min­is­ters, ad­ding that the next pres­i­dent could get to nom­i­nate up to five high court jus­tices. “It could cost us the Supreme Court.”

Af­ter trounc­ing 16 chal­lengers in the Repub­li­can pri­mary, Trump is en­coun­ter­ing wor­ry­ing signs as his cam­paign moves into the gen­eral elec­tion. Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton’s lead over Trump in na­tional polls has widened in re­cent days, while a num­ber of fel­low Repub­li­cans have de­clared they won't sup­port their own party’s pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee.

In Utah, typ­i­cally a re­li­ably Repub­li­can state, Trump’s chal­lenges have been par­tic­u­larly strik­ing. The state’s large Mor­mon pop­u­la­tion has voiced se­ri­ous scep­ti­cism about Trump, though the state’s GOP gov­er­nor has en­dorsed him.

“We’ve re­ally been given a false nar­ra­tive,” Trump said of his strug­gles in Utah.

Yet in other tra­di­tion­ally GOP-lean­ing states like Ari­zona and Ge­or­gia, too, Repub­li­cans are con­cerned Trump’s un­pop­u­lar­ity could give Democrats an im­prob­a­ble vic­tory. The con­cerns are com­pelling enough that dozens of wor­ried Repub­li­cans gath­ered sig­na­tures on Thurs­day for a let­ter to the GOP party chair urg­ing him to stop help­ing Trump and fo­cus on pro­tect­ing vul­ner­a­ble House and Se­nate can­di­dates.

Trump, who typ­i­cally boasts of how over­whelm­ingly he’s go­ing to win the elec­tion, seemed less as­sured dur­ing a round of in­ter­views and pub­lic ap­pear­ances on Thurs­day. Asked by CNBC how he planned to re­verse the ad­van­tage that Clin­ton has opened over him, Trump said he sim­ply planned to do “the same thing I’m do­ing right now”.

“At the end, it’s ei­ther go­ing to work, or I’m go­ing to, you know, I’m go­ing to have a very, very nice, long va­ca­tion,” Trump said.

At the evan­gel­i­cal sum­mit in Or­lando, Trump be­seeched re­li­gious lead­ers to con­vince their fol­low­ers to show up to vote for him, gen­tly chid­ing evan­gel­i­cals for fail­ing to vote in large enough num­bers for GOP nom­i­nee Mitt Rom­ney in 2012. He said Chris­tians, who make up a ma­jor­ity of the Amer­i­can elec­torate, need to have their voices heard. “What­ever you can do, I ap­pre­ci­ate it,” he said. Trump’s unusu­ally can­did re­flec­tion about the uncer­tainty of his elec­toral prospects came as he’s strug­gled to keep the fo­cus on his op­po­nent — Clin­ton — and avoid un­wanted dis­trac­tions. Ear­lier this week he caused a ma­jor stir with com­ments about the Sec­ond Amend­ment that were per­ceived as ad­vo­cat­ing vi­o­lence against Clin­ton, and found him­self fac­ing ques­tions yet again af­ter declar­ing on Wed­nes­day that Pres­i­dent Barack Obama was the “founder” of the Is­lamic State group — a claim that’s patently false.

Those dust-ups re­in­forced con­cerns among Trump sup­port­ers that a lack of dis­ci­pline could im­peril his chances. Even as he was given op­por­tu­ni­ties on Thurs­day to clean up his quip about Obama from a day ear­lier, Trump in­stead took it fur­ther.

He brushed off con­ser­va­tive ra­dio com­men­ta­tor Hugh He­witt’s at­tempt to re­frame Trump’s ob­ser­va­tion as one that said Obama’s for­eign pol­icy cre­ated the con­di­tions in Iraq and Syria that al­lowed ISIS to thrive.

“No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS. I do,” Trump said, us­ing an­other acro­nym for the ex­trem­ist group that has wreaked havoc from the Mid­dle East to Euro­pean cities.

He­witt asked Trump if he would ac­knowl­edge that Obama hates the Is­lamic State, not­ing that the pres­i­dent is “try­ing to kill them”. Over the past two years Obama has or­gan­ised a broad coali­tion of coun­tries and launched more than 10 000 US airstrikes to de­feat ISIS.

“I don’t care,” the bil­lion­aire busi­ness­man replied. “He was the founder. The way he got out of Iraq — that was the found­ing of ISIS, OK?”

The GOP let­ter to Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee Chair Reince Priebus warns that Trump’s “di­vi­sive­ness, reck­less­ness, in­com­pe­tence, and record-break­ing un­pop­u­lar­ity risk turn­ing this elec­tion into a Demo­cratic land­slide”, ac­cord­ing to a draft ob­tained by The As­so­ci­ated Press.

At least 70 Repub­li­cans have signed the let­ter so far, ac­cord­ing to Repub­li­can op­er­a­tive An­drew We­in­stein, who said it in­cluded five for­mer mem­bers of Congress and 16 for­mer RNC staffers.

The RNC did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment. — AFP

Don­ald Trump

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