Turmoil in the Republican Party escalated Wednesday as party leaders, strategists and donors voiced increased alarm about the flailing state of Donald Trump’s candidacy and fears that the presidential nominee was damaging the party with an extraordinary week of self-inflicted mistakes, gratuitous attacks and missed opportunities.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus was described as “very frustrated” with and deeply disturbed by Trump’s behavior over the past week, having run out of excuses to make on the nominee’s behalf to donors and other party leaders, according to multiple people familiar with the events.
Meanwhile, Trump’s top campaign advisers are struggling once again to instill discipline in their candidate, who has spent recent days lunging from one controversy to another while seemingly skipping chances to go on the offensive against his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
“A new level of panic hit the street,” said longtime operative Scott Reed, chief strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “It’s time for a serious reset.”
Trump allies on Wednesday publicly urged the candidate to reboot, furious that he has allowed his confrontation with the Muslim parents of dead Army Capt. Humayun Khan to continue for nearly a week. They also are angry with Trump because of his refusal in an interview with The Washington Post on Tuesday to endorse two of the GOP’s top elected officials — House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) and Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) — ahead of their upcoming primary elections.
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), one of Trump’s most loyal defenders, warned that his friend was in danger of throwing away the election and helping to make Clinton president.
“The current race is which of these two is the more unacceptable, because right now neither of them is acceptable,” he said. “Trump is helping her to win by proving he is more unacceptable than she is.”
Gingrich said Trump has only a matter of weeks to reverse course. “Anybody who is horrified by Hillary should hope that Trump will take a deep breath and learn some new skills,” he said. “He cannot win the presidency operating the way he is now. She can’t be bad enough to elect him if he’s determined to make this many mistakes.”
SOURCE: Philip Rucker, Dan Balz, and Matea Gold
The Washington Post