Trump says ‘shackles’ are off, assails U.S. House speaker, McCain
WASHINGTON: Presidential candidate Donald Trump angrily lashed out at U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and other “disloyal” Republicans on Tuesday and vowed to campaign in whatever style he wants now that the party establishment has largely abandoned him.
Trump condemned the Republicans who have backed away from his White House run in a barrage of stinging Twitter posts, deepening a dramatic rift in the party over his struggling campaign.
“It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to,” Trump said on Twitter, adding he would engage Democratic rival Hillary Clinton on his own terms.
Describing “disloyal” Republicans as more difficult than Clinton he said, “They come at you from all sides. They don’t know how to win – I will teach them!”
A string of Republicans have distanced themselves from Trump since a 2005 video surfaced on Friday showing him bragging crudely to a reporter about groping women and making unwanted sexual advances.
Ryan, the top Republican in Congress, told party lawmakers on Monday he was breaking with Trump and would not campaign for him, all but conceding Clinton would win the Nov. 8 election. The move angered some Trump supporters, although Ryan said he would not withdraw his endorsement of the New York businessman.
Trump slammed Ryan as a “very weak and ineffective leader” and complained in another tweet that it was hard to do well with “zero support” from Ryan and others. He also took aim at U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona, the Republican presidential nominee in 2008, who said on Saturday that he could not vote for Trump.
“The very foul mouthed Sen. John McCain begged for my support during his primary (I gave, he won), then dropped me over locker room remarks,” Trump said. There was no immediate reaction from McCain, who secured his primary election win in August.
Trump, whose campaign has been marked for months by controversies over both his policies and his brash style, has slipped further behind Clinton in opinion polls.
A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll taken after a Sunday’s debate and released on Tuesday showed Clinton with a 9-point lead on Trump, winning 46 percent of likely voters compared to Trump’s 37 percent.
Many Republicans are worried his chaotic campaign could hurt their chances of holding majorities in the House of Representatives and Senate in next month’s election, and will inflict long-term damage on the party.