- REUTERS/Mike Segar
Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, tossed acid on top members of his own party Tuesday, signaling a return to the combative and undisciplined candidate he was during the contested GOP primaries.
The real-estate tycoon, fighting off controversy stemming from a 2005 leaked audio tape in which he boasted about groping women and kissing them without consent, widened his field of battle by throwing stones at House Speaker Paul Ryan, the highest-ranking elected Republican in the country, and Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the 2008 GOP nominee for president.
Trump pummeled Ryan as a “very weak and ineffective leader” and characterized McCain as a “foulmouthed” senator who “begged” for his support.
The tycoon’s stinging rebukes came after both Ryan and McCain publicly distanced themselves from Trump’s campaign.
A representative for Trump would not clarify whether the billionaire still supported the reelection campaigns of Ryan and McCain, but with only 28 days until Election Day, the move to attack Republicans within his own party was still an unprecedented move in American politics.
“Donald Trump is like a wounded animal in the forest just thrashing out at anything in his field of vision – he’s unhinged,” said Ryan Williams, a former spokesman for 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
He added: “Any loyalty to the party he may have had is gone. He’s never really been a team player. It’s clear he does not care about the Republican Party or anyone else who is running on the ballot this year. This is all about Donald Trump.”
- Thomson Reuters
Throughout the primary season, Trump embraced a more primal outlook toward politics, not hesitating to lash out at those who criticized him and often veering from a policy-focused vision. But for a stretch of a few weeks in late August and September, it appeared as if his advisers had finally persuaded him to stick to an agenda-driven script.
The increasingly isolated Trump shook that off on Tuesday, signaling he was perhaps done listening to those in his inner circle.
“It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me,” he wrote on Twitter, “and I can now fight for America the way I want to.”
The Republican National Committee has, thus far, stood by silently. A representative did not return a request for comment about Trump’s attacks on the party.
“The RNC is stuck with Trump, who is likely to lose and then blame THE RNC,” Scott Jennings, a former special assistant to President George W. Bush, told Business Insider in an email.
Jennings added that it would not be “feasible” for the RNC to distance itself from Trump, especially because “volunteers largely show up in presidential election years to help elect a president.”
“HOW DO YOU STOP THEM from mentioning the nominee during phone and door interactions?” he wrote. “You can’t. The RNC distancing itself from Trump at this point would be akin to Carl Spackler slinking off the 18th green after the golfing priest for whom he was caddying gets struck by lightning.”
Williams agreed, characterizing Reince Priebus, the party chairman, as being in an “impossible spot.”
“There is not much they can do,” he said. “They are not in charge of this process. The best they can do is get Trump to shut up and move forward.”
Persuading Trump to muzzle his cravings to lash out at each of his Republican critics may prove difficult, however, as Williams acknowledged.
“I don’t think there is anybody that can control Trump,” Williams said. “He does whatever he feels like.”