Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

GOP Frustrations with Trump Mount as Allies Weigh Options

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

GOP Frustrations with Trump Mount as Allies Weigh Options

Article excerpt

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. * Their party in crisis, Republicans' frustration with Donald Trump reached new heights on Wednesday as party leaders on Capitol Hill and inside New York's Trump Tower scrambled to persuade their presidential nominee to abandon divisive tactics that have triggered low moral and sinking poll numbers.

Party chairman Reince Priebus appealed to the New York billionaire's adult children to help amid new signs of a campaign in trouble.

Trump's operation has been beset by internal discord, including growing concern about general election preparedness and a lack of support from Republican leaders, according to two people familiar with the organization's inner workings.

One of the people said Trump privately blamed his own staff for failing to quiet the backlash from Republicans after he criticized an American Muslim family whose son, a U.S. Army captain, was killed in Iraq.

The inner tension comes as Priebus and a handful of high-profile Trump allies consider whether to confront the candidate directly to encourage a new approach after a series of startling stances and statements. In the midst of the uproar over his continued criticism of the Khan family, Trump infuriated Priebus and other party leaders by refusing to endorse GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan's re-election.

The officials, including one with direct knowledge of Priebus' thinking, were granted anonymity to discuss internal strategy after one of the most tumultuous weeks of Trump's presidential campaign.

Trump dismissed on Wednesday suggestions that the GOP's frustration was hurting his campaign, even as he openly contemplated an Election Day loss.

"Wouldn't that be embarrassing to lose to crooked Hillary Clinton? That would be terrible," he said at a campaign stop in battleground Florida. He also insisted, "We've never been this united."

In an interview later Wednesday with Florida's WPEC-TV, Trump was asked if he was being "baited into battles."

"I think that's probably right," he acknowledged. "We're going to focus more on Hillary Clinton."

The most powerful Republicans in Washington and New York's Trump Tower concede things will not change unless Trump wants them to.

"The candidate is in control of his campaign," campaign chairman Paul Manafort told Fox News Channel, highlighting his inability to control the nominee. "And I'm in control of doing the things that he wants me to do in the campaign."

Clinton, meanwhile, kept up her assault on Trump's business practices, holding up a Trump-branded tie as she spoke at the Knotty Tie Co. in battleground Colorado.

"I really would like him to explain why he paid Chinese workers to make Trump ties," she told employees in Denver, "instead of deciding to make those ties right here in Colorado."

Trump blamed the media "so dishonest" for growing criticism of his recent statements and his unwillingness to accept guidance from senior advisers. …

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