Property magnate Donald Trump fired a not-so-subtle warning shot at the national Republicans attacking him on Tuesday.
The Republican presidential front-runner did this by touting a poll showing that his supporters would still back him if he ran as an independent.
The implied threat comes as a wide swath of Republicans, state-party chairs, and others have criticised his new proposal to suspend all Muslim travel to the US, including immigrants and tourists.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, the chairs of the New Hampshire and South Carolina Republican parties, a number of GOP operatives, and most of the Republican presidential field have dismissed Trump’s provocative plan.
Trump announced the proposal Monday, in the aftermath of last week’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, that was linked to the Islamic State terrorist group.
He argued that “hatred” from even American Muslims justifies stopping additional Muslims from entering the US until “our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”
Trump first toyed with the idea of an independent presidential bid earlier this year, but amid intense pressure from national Republicans, he and the other candidates eventually signed a pledge to support the eventual GOP nominee. At the time, Trump said he was assured that the Republican National Committee would treat him “fairly.”
But the billionaire businessman again wouldn’t rule out an independent bid last month, suggesting that a former RNC aide’s threats to run an ad campaign against him could motivate him to reconsider the pledge.
“Well, we’ll see what happens,” Trump said during an ABC interview. “It will be very interesting. But I’m leading every poll by a lot. It’s not even a little bit anymore, it’s a lot.”
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos pressed Trump to elaborate.
“Well, I’m going to have to see what happens,” Trump repeated. “I will see what happens. I have to be treated fairly. You know, when I did this, I said I have to be treated fairly. If I’m treated fairly, I’m fine.”
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), a rival presidential candidate, responded to Trump’s Tuesday tweet by suggesting that the mogul is in cahoots with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner:
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