It’s been a tough week for Donald Trump. Even as Hillary Clinton earned the delegates she needed to officially become the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, he’s had to face some heavy criticism from his own party before he could totally move on to battle his real rival.
The reason many of his GOP brethren are in an uproar? It’s the recent comment Trump made suggesting that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel may not be able to rule impartially in the Trump University lawsuit – because Curiel is “Mexican.” And well, Trump has a history of inflammatory comments against Mexicans. Then there’s the little matter of that wall he wants to build along the Mexico border. The fact the Judge Curiel was actually born and raised in Indiana is just a technicality to the GOP nominee.
Republicans – especially those who were a little slow to endorse Trump in the first place – have been quick to call him out, denouncing any GOP acceptance of such talk. After a tepid June 2 endorsement of Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) told reporters that Trump’s attack on Curiel was "the textbook definition of a racist comment."
And other Republicans leaders, from former rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich denounced his comments as well. And they weren’t alone. Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois even rescinded his endorsement of the billionaire politician.
So while Trump has the delegates he needs to get his Party’s nod – and his clear focus should logically be directed at Hillary Clinton – last week saw him dialing back his tone and actually reading from a teleprompter as the last of the presidential primaries came to a close. Well, at least once.
He also suggested that his comments about Curiel may have been “misconstrued,” by both the media and his fellow Republicans, but with typical Trump bravado, he never actually offered an explanation, apology, or retraction of his statement.
Is it a case of too little too late? Promising supporters that he’ll “make his case against the Clintons,” Trump is clearly trying to put the incident behind him and direct his future attacks at the one person sure to draw support from his fellow Republicans – Hillary Clinton.
But is it enough? A recent Politico survey showed “nearly four-in-10 Republican members of The POLITICO Caucus—a panel of activists, operatives and strategists in 10 key states” would support a rule change which prevents Trump from getting the GOP nomination. Although his supporters flock to his rallies in droves for his inflammatory rhetorical style, the GOP is becoming wary of the media circus.
They’re concerned that his style and his comments -- while definitely entertaining -- are beginning to drag the rest of the party down with him. And that doesn't bode well for other Republicans who are up for re-election. Some even worry that his flamboyantly abrasive style could result in the loss of the GOP’s current 4-seat majority in the House – a change that could adversely affect legislation well into the future.
So while Trump calculates his plan of attack on the Clintons (because we can’t forget about Bill Clinton – Trump clearly hasn’t), GOP leaders are wondering what they can do to rein him in.
Does Trump want the endorsement of top GOP leaders? Absolutely. Will he change his ways to get it? Absolutely not. "My goal is always again to bring people together,” Trump asserted, “but …I will never ever back down.”
The question is – will the GOP?