Donald Trump Says He's Not Leaving The 2016 GOP Race, Despite His Crumbling Campaign
In a series of phone call statements to The Washington Post on Saturday afternoon, 2016 GOP candidate and billionaire business magnate Donald Trump insisted he wouldn't leave the GOP race, despite a crumbling campaign that has left the Republican party reeling in the process. Since Thursday's GOP primary debate, Trump has run the gamut from flippant and arrogant to downright nasty, concluding the week on a low note Friday by tweeting a series of messages directed at debate moderator and Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, in which he called her a "loser" and implied that she was a "bimbo." That same day, in a sit-down with CNN's Don Lemon, Trump seemed to attribute Kelly's fiery line of questioning during the debate to her menstrual cycle. In spite the chaos, however, the GOP front-runner was adamant in his intent to continue lobbying for votes, telling Washington Post reporters that he was quite "serious" about the race.
"I have a lot of money, and I’m not getting out, I’m going to win," said Trump on Saturday. "You watch: When this campaign is over, I win."
Although it was a typically characteristic move, Trump's confidence seemed to fly in the face of reality. In the same Washington Post interview, Trump boldly declared that he had fired his top adviser, Roger Stone, out of concern that Stone had only associated himself with the campaign in order to garner publicity for himself. However, Politico later reported that Stone had actually quit, angry with the direction Trump had been taking his campaign.
Taking to Twitter on Saturday, Stone wrote:
Sorry @realDonaldTrump didn’t fire me- I fired Trump. Diasagree with diversion to food fight with @megynkelly away core issue messages.
According to the Politico report, Stone had tendered his resignation early on Saturday; less than an hour after he had notified the campaign, Trump had claimed to Washington Post reporters that he had fired Stone. It was a rookie move on the senior adviser's part, said his closest confidantes, especially given Trump's track record.
"Roger’s mistake was trusting Donald and not establishing a clear record that he was resigning first," a friend of the political adviser told Politico.
Any ground Trump may have been gaining among the GOP and its voter base was also damaged on Thursday, with a post-debate focus group follow-up conducted by Republican consultant Frank Luntz showcasing voters' shifting perceptions of the outspoken billionaire. One focus group participant commented on Thursday evening:
I was really expecting him to do a lot better, but he just crashed and burned. He was mean, he was angry. He had no specifics.
Although some have suspected that Trump's poll numbers may not take as big of a hit as expected over the next several weeks, his most recent antics have certainly killed any lingering respect his fellow GOP candidates may have harbored for him. In a tweet on Saturday morning, conservative darling and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said that he agreed with his fellow candidate, Carly Fiorina, who had earlier voiced her discontent with Trump's sexist tirade against moderator Kelly:
I agree with @CarlyFiorina, there's no excuse for Trump's comments. Stand with @MegynKelly.
Following a two-month-long ambush against military POWs (specifically Arizona Sen. John McCain), Mexican immigrants (who Trump claims are "rapists" and "drug users"), and women in general, it's a wonder that Trump's campaign is still on its feet. Given this most recent interview with The Washington Post, it doesn't look like he's willing to go down without a fight.