US Elections 2016: Final countdown

Trump hits out at party, Speaker for disloyalty

Mr Trump at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on Monday. With his flurry of tweets yesterday against House Speaker Paul Ryan and the party at large, the controversial Republican nominee seems to have taken his uneasy relationship with his party
Mr Trump at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on Monday. With his flurry of tweets yesterday against House Speaker Paul Ryan and the party at large, the controversial Republican nominee seems to have taken his uneasy relationship with his party a notch higher.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Split between nominee and party unprecedented, causing even more uncertainty among Republicans

Republican nominee Donald Trump has gone on a rampage against his own party, accusing it of disloyalty - effectively pouring fuel over what is already a brewing civil war on how to treat its controversial candidate.

In a flurry of tweets yesterday, Mr Trump lashed out at House Speaker Paul Ryan before setting his sights on the party at large. Though factions of the party have had an uneasy relationship with the tycoon, few would have anticipated the open hostilities of the last 24 hours.

A split of this manner between a nominee and his party is unprecedented in recent presidential politics and it remains to be seen how it will affect both Mr Trump's and the party's prospects at the ballot box.

Mr Trump began his barrage on Twitter at 5.16am, first by decrying the top elected Republican lawmaker for giving him "zero support" and then calling Mr Ryan a "weak leader". He wrote: "Our very weak and ineffective leader, Paul Ryan, had a bad conference call where his members went wild at his disloyalty."

It was a prelude to broader attacks.

"It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to," he wrote, before praising the Democrats for having "always proven to be far more loyal to each other than the Republicans".

Later, he added: "Disloyal R's (Republicans) are far more difficult than Crooked Hillary. They come at you from all sides. They don't know how to win - I will teach them!"

All this took place as Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman Reince Priebus continued to try and present a united front.

In a conference call with the 168 members of the RNC on Monday, he stressed that the party was standing behind the nominee.

"Nothing has changed with regard to our relationship and we remain very much involved and together in all levels of making these decisions on how to run this operation across this country," he said.

Yesterday's outburst comes at the end of a disastrous stretch for the Trump campaign, which included dozens of Republican lawmakers revoking their endorsement of him. Mr Ryan has not pulled back his official support but he said on Monday that he would not campaign with Mr Trump and was focusing on protecting the party's majority in Congress.

The Republican Party holds a 59-seat majority in the House of Representatives and an eight-seat lead in the Senate. A landslide could threaten both majorities.

Latest polls, the ones that capture some of the reaction since the release of the tapes showing Mr Trump making vulgar remarks about women, show a growing advantage for Mrs Hillary Clinton.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released on Monday gives the Democrat an 11-point lead.

The RealClearPolitics average has moved up from a 3.1 point lead last week to 5.8 points.

Yesterday, Mr Trump's supporters across the country were similarly outraged by what they perceived to be a lack of support from the party establishment.

Arizona Republican Party state chairman Robert Graham - one of the names floated as a potential successor to Mr Priebus - issued a blistering statement denouncing party colleagues for being "willing to surrender the principles and values we espouse as conservatives" because of Mr Trump's remarks.

"Leadership is making the tough decisions, digging in and sacrificing for beliefs and ideas greater than one person," Mr Graham said.

Meanwhile, Mr Corey Stewart, Mr Trump's campaign chairman in Virginia, was fired for organising a protest against the RNC outside party headquarters in Washington.

Separately, Wikileaks released a third batch of e-mails from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, although an initial analysis did not reveal any bombshells.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2016, with the headline 'Trump hits out at party, Speaker for disloyalty'. Print Edition | Subscribe