Trump has attacked the Republican party establishment as a verbal feud within the party heats up. As Trump's poll numbers slip, Republican are worried his flailing campaign could impact congressional races.
A combative Donald Trump lashed out at House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republicans on Tuesday, as growing fissures within the GOP threatens to damage the party just four weeks before the November 8 election.
Video footage released last week of Trump speaking lewdly about women in 2005 have led to a number of Republicans bailing on their presidential candidate amid concern the party could lose the House or Senate.
In a series of Tweets on Tuesday, Trump said "the shackles" of his party had been taken off and that he would teach "disloyal" Republicans a lesson. Targeting Ryan, Trump called the top Republican in Congress "our very weak and ineffective leader."
The open verbal warfare between the party establishment and Trump comes as Ryan on Monday said he would not campaign for the Republican presidential candidate in order to focus on Republican House races to ensure Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton did not get a "blank check" with a Democratic-controlled congress.
The Democrats must win five seats in the Senate, or four seats if Clinton is elected since the vice president casts a vote in a tie, in order take control of the body. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday in a conference call with lawmakers that Democrats would take back the House if an election were held today.
In the House, the Republicans hold 246-186 seat advantage that many observers say would be hard for the Democrats to break this election.
While stopping short of withdrawing his endorsement of Trump, Ryan's comments suggest that he has all but given up on the Republicans taking control of the White House. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Tuesday showed Clinton winning 46 percent of likely voters compared to Trump's 37 percent.
At least 40 Republican senators and congressmen have withdrawn support for Trump, in part due to concern he could negatively impact their chances of winning their seats in the election.
Meanwhile, nearly half of all 331 incumbent Republican senators, House members and governors have condemned Trump's comments about women in the video.
Yet the growing opposition to Trump within the party also threatens to alienate many Republican voters who continue to support the billionaire businessman. Other Republicans put off by the whole race may not show up to vote, an outcome that could hurt the party, Republicans say.
cw/bw (AP, Reuters)