Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, tossed acid on top members of his own party Tuesday, signalling 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 his sexual exploits with women, widened his field of battle by throwing stones at House Speaker Paul Ryan, the highest-ranking elected Republican in the country, and Arizona Sen. John McCain, the 2008 GOP nominee for president.
Trump pummelled Ryan as a “very weak and ineffective leader” and characterised McCain as a “foul mouthed” senator who “begged” for his support.
The tycoon’s stinging rebukes came after both Ryan and McCain publicly distanced themselves from Trump’s fledgling campaign.
A spokesperson for Trump would not clarify whether the billionaire still supported the reelection campaigns of Trump and McCain, but with only 28 days until Election Day, the move to even attack “disloyal” Republicans within his own party was 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.”
Throughout the primary season, Trump embraced a more primal outlook toward politics, not hesitating to lash out at those who criticised him and often veering from a policy-focused vision. But for a stretch of a few weeks in late August and September, it appeared that his advisers had finally convinced him to stick to an agenda-driven script.
The increasingly isolated Trump shook that off on Tuesday, signalling 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 spokesperson did not return a request for comment about Trump’s attacks on his own party.
“The RNC is stuck with Trump, who is likely to lose and then blame THE RNC,” explained Scott Jennings, a former special assistant to former President George W. Bush, in an email to Business Insider.
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? You can’t,” he wrote. “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, characterising party chairman Reince Priebus as 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.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.