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Presidential candidate Donald Trump with outstretched arms during speech.
Image: Getty Images/J. Moore

Trump goes off message, and after media

August 14, 2016

Trump says he is furious at media coverage of a comment he made on the "Second Amendment," which many took as a call to arms. He is also angered by suggestions of growing dysfunction and confusion inside his campaign.


The US presidential election is less than 90 days away, but Republican nominee Donald Trump continues to fire criticism, more often than not, against people and institutions other than his Democratic counterpart Hillary Clinton. His latest target is the media.

"I am not running against Crooked Hillary Clinton," Trump said in a speech in Fairfield, Connecticut. "I'm running against the crooked media."

Trump launched his latest broadside against the media for its coverage of his controversial remarks this past week about the Second Amendment, which stipulates people's right to bear arms. He warned a crowd that if Clinton became president, she would appoint judges that would support limits on the nearly unfettered access to guns that now prevails in the US. But he added that perhaps Second Amendment advocates could stop her.

The comment provoked widespread outrage, as many interpreted it as an oblique call to assassination - a charge Trump now vehemently denies.

If the disgusting and corrupt media covered me honestly and didn't put false meaning into the words I say, I would be beating Hillary by 20 percent," he tweeted. That tweet was followed by: "My rallies are not covered properly by the media. They never discuss the real message and never show crowd size or enthusiasm."

His claim that President Barack Obama and Clinton are co-founders of the terrorist group "Islamic State" was also widely criticized in the media, again raising the ire of the real-estate billionaire.

Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson
Libertarian Party candidate Gary JohnsonImage: picture alliance/AP Images/J. Raoux

Libertarian beneficiaries?

Trump also continues to lose support from members of the Republican party.

Maine Senator Susan Collins has already announced she would not be supporting Trump but on Sunday said she was looking at the Libertarian Party ticket of former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld.

"If Bill Weld were the head of that ticket, it would be an easier choice for me because I know him well and respect him a great deal," she said. "I may go that route, or I may end up writing in the name of the person I think is best qualified to be our next president."

The tipping point for Collins withdrawing her support for Trump had been his attack on the family of a US soldier: "It was inexplicable to me that anyone, much less a presidential candidate, would not honor the sacrifice and empathize with a family who lost the son in war," Collins said Sunday on CBS television's "Face the Nation." "Instead, he attacked them and attacked their religion."

Trump on stage
Trump on stageImage: Getty Images/J. Moore

'Sullen and erratic'

Trump also took umbrage with a "New York Times" story that used unnamed sources to chronicle tensions and dysfunction inside his campaign.

The story quotes "campaign insiders" as saying that in private, "his mood is often sullen and erratic." And Republicans close to his campaign were quoted as saying he was "exhausted, frustrated and still bewildered" by the political process.

Trump again took to Twitter, slamming the "Times" report as "fiction" and reaffirming that he won't change what he perceives to be a winning campaign formula. "I am who I am," he tweeted.

His campaign manager Paul Manafort supported Trumps latest attack against the media during an interview on CNN.

"Contrary to the 'New York Times's' nameless sources story, the campaign is moving forward and very strong," Manafort said. "We raised over $132 million in the last two months."

But the Trump formula of outlandish comments, followed by attacks on the media for reporting said comments, have caused him to fall behind Clinton in key battleground states - by double digits in some.

On Monday, he will get yet another chance to right his campaign when he addresses the issue of combating terrorism - an issue in which he polls favorably against Clinton.

The challenge for Trump will be, as always, to stay on message.

bik/tj (AP, AFP)

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