Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump lashed out at 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, in a barrage of stinging social media posts, condemned the Republicans who have backed away from his White House run, 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 wrote, 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 Republican officials and officeholders have distanced themselves from Trump since last week.
Despite the turn away from Trump by some elected Republicans, a Reuters/Ipsos poll of likely voters, released on Tuesday, found 58 percent of Republicans wanted Trump to stay atop their party’s ticket and 68 percent said the Republican leadership should stand by him.
The poll, which was conducted after the second presidential debate on Sunday, showed Clinton’s lead over Trump widening to 8 points from 5 points last week, before the release of the video.
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 presidency. The move angered some Trump supporters, although Ryan said he would not withdraw his endorsement of Trump.
Trump slammed Ryan as a “very weak and ineffective leader” and complained in another post that it was hard to do well with “zero support” from Ryan and others. He later said in an interview with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly he neither wanted nor needed Ryan’s support.
Ryan’s spokesman, Brendan Buck, said on Tuesday that the speaker “is focusing the next month on defeating Democrats, and all Republicans running for office should probably do the same.”
Trump also took aim at Senator John McCain of Arizona, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, who said on Saturday that he could not vote for Trump.
There was no immediate reaction from McCain, who secured his primary election win in August.
Many Republicans worry that Trump’s 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.