Wealth will keep Trump run alive, pollster says
WASHINGTON — Donald Trump endured an avalanche of fresh criticism Monday for questioning Sen. John McCain’s heroism. But he’s getting no pressure at all from the one community that could push a candidate out of the 2016 presidential race: political donors.
The billionaire businessman is paying for his own campaign, and that means Republicans may have him around far longer than some party leaders would like.
“Nobody leaves a race because they get tired, or because they think they don’t have the votes. They leave the race because they run out of money,” said Frank Luntz, a GOP pollster. “Donald Trump will never run out of money, and that makes him incredibly powerful.”
Indeed, Republican operatives suggest that Trump enjoys a rare freedom.
Because he doesn’t need tens of millions of dollars from wealthy donors — a notoriously risk-averse crowd — the standard rules of politics simply don’t apply.
At his formal announcement, Trump portrayed immigrants from Mexico as criminals and rapists. Then, at a conservative summit in Iowa last weekend, he dismissed McCain’s reputation as a war hero, saying of the Arizona senator who was held five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, “I like people who weren’t captured.”
“If there was a misunderstanding, I would totally take that back,” he said in an evening interview on Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor.” On “CBS Evening News,” he said, “I don’t know if I made a mistake.”
Critics began piling on Trump once he made his comments Saturday, and new voices emerged Monday, from veterans groups, Republican colleagues and President Obama’s spokesman, who defended McCain and called on Trump to apologize.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a 2016 candidate and close friend of Arizona Sen. John McCain, called businessman Donald Trump “a jackass” on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront” on Monday.
“What he said about John, I think, was offensive. He’s becoming a jackass at a time when we need to have a serious debate about the future of the party and the country,” Graham said.
Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said that Trump’s “asinine comments” were “an insult to everyone who has ever worn the uniform — and to all Americans.”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said veterans “are entitled to an apology.”
A candidate reliant on campaign contributions probably would be feeling the pain by now.
Yet the self-funded Trump can proceed as he wishes. After leveling new criticism against McCain early Monday, saying the senator had made America “less safe” through his votes in Congress, he lashed out at fellow GOP presidential aspirants who have criticized his remarks, calling them “failed politicians.”
Trump said he did not need “to be lectured by any of them.”