After Donald Trump said on Tuesday that “the shackles were coming off” after so many Republicans called on him to drop out of the race, it would be perfectly natural to wonder what the heck he was talking about.
The most unhinged presidential candidate in history was dealing with “shackles”? Whoda thunk it.
Perhaps Trump was speaking metaphorically because the only thing that remained to be “unshackled” was the candidate’s rampant paranoia, which he gave free rein to today.
One day after warning the GOP that his “shackles” are off, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump floated the prospect of a “sinister deal” preventing Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) from coming to his defense.
Trump at a Florida rally on Wednesday questioned why Ryan, who effectively conceded Trump’s White House chances during a call with lawmakers this week, wouldn’t come out and congratulate him after Sunday’s presidential debate.
“Wouldn’t you think Paul Ryan would call and say, ‘good going’?” Trump asked in Ocala.
“You’d think they’d say, ‘Great going, Don. Let’s go, let’s beat this crook. Let’s beat her. We’ve got to stop her.’ No, he doesn’t do that. There’s a whole deal going on. We’re going to figure it out. I always figure things out. There’s a whole sinister deal.”
It’s the latest evidence of a deepening fracture between the GOP nominee and his party’s establishment less than one month before the election. It all comes while frantic Republicans face the fallout of Friday’s release of damaging audio in which Trump talks about groping women without their consent.
More than two-dozen lawmakers called on Trump to withdraw as the nominee and leave the top of the ticket to his running mate, Mike Pence. But Trump has emphatically sworn off the idea, telegraphing all-out warfare against the party with a series of Tuesday morning tweets declaring that the “shackles” put on him by establishment Republicans are now off.
The discontent all comes as Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton continues to expand her lead at the polls. Those top-of-the-ticket gains have prompted Republicans and Democrats alike to begin to wonder if the fallout could deliver the Senate to the Democrats and even put House control in play.
Trump has shown no sign of playing nice with the party, putting him at odds with the Speaker, who agreed to take the post last year in the hopes of building party unity.
Ryan repudiated Trump’s 2005 comments in a statement over the weekend. But while the Wisconsin Republican did not withdraw his endorsement officially, he told lawmakers this week he would no longer defend Trump or campaign with him. Instead, Ryan said that he would focus on maintaining the House majority as a check on Clinton if she wins.
Ryan’s decision has drawn the ire of Trump and his allies.
A “sinister deal”? Maybe Paul Ryan didn’t come to his defense over his degrading comments about women because the comments are indefensible. And Trump’s confidence in being able to find out what sort of “deal” it was that keeps Paul Ryan from committing political suicide by defending him is bizarre. What deal? With whom? The pressure must be getting to the candidate for him to act in such a paranoid way.
Indeed, in addition to allowing his paranoia to show, the candidate is apparently delusional as well:
“Despite winning the second debate in a landslide (every poll), it is hard to do well when Paul Ryan and others give zero support!” Trump wrote on Twitter earlier Tuesday morning, adding an hour later that “our very weak and ineffective leader, Paul Ryan, had a bad conference call where his members went wild at his disloyalty.”
For the record, 3 of 4 quality polls published after the debate show Clinton winning the debate by double digits with one poll showing Trump losing by 5. If he really believes he won the debate in a “landslide,” his grip on reality is becoming tenuous indeed.
Trump may be hoping to bring about a Republican Party Götterdämmerung. Not just a blow-up of the civil war between establishment politicians and the kooks. That will almost certainly happen anyway. What Trump may have in mind is a total collapse of the party that would lead to some kind of schism with him taking his “movement” to form another party.
Trump can read the polls and knows he is sinking rapidly. He is setting the stage to claim that the election was “stolen” from him — probably by a combination of Republicans and Democrats. That charge will be the catalyst for a fatal break by Trump supporters with the Republican Party. Whatever’s left of the GOP.
It will be Trump’s true political legacy: handing the reins of power to the Democrats for 20 years.