Turmoil in the Republican Party escalated Wednesday as party leaders, strategists and donors voiced increased alarm about the flailing state of Donald Trump’s candidacy and fears that the presidential nominee was damaging the party with an extraordinary week of self-inflicted mistakes, gratuitous attacks and missed opportunities.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus was described as “very frustrated” with and deeply disturbed by Trump’s behavior over the past week, having run out of excuses to make on the nominee’s behalf to donors and other party leaders, according to multiple people familiar with the events.

Meanwhile, Trump’s top advisers are struggling once again to instill discipline in their candidate, who has spent recent days lunging from one controversy to another while seemingly skipping chances to go on the offensive against Hillary Clinton.

“A new level of panic hit the street,” said longtime operative Scott Reed, chief strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “It’s time for a serious reset.”

Trump allies on Wednesday publicly urged the candidate to reboot, furious that he has allowed his confrontation with the Muslim parents of dead Army Capt. Humayun Khan to continue for nearly a week. They also are angry with Trump because of his refusal in an interview with The Washington Post on Tuesday to endorse two of the Republican Party’s top elected officials – House Speaker Paul Ryan (Wisconsin) and Sen. John McCain (Arizona) – ahead of their primary elections.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, one of Trump’s most loyal defenders, warned that his friend is in danger of throwing away the election and helping to make Clinton president.


“The current race is which of these two is the more unacceptable, because right now neither of them is acceptable,” he said. “Trump is helping her to win by proving he is more unacceptable than she is.”

Gingrich said Trump has only a matter of weeks to reverse course. “Anybody who is horrified by Hillary should hope that Trump will take a deep breath and learn some new skills,” he said. “He cannot win the presidency operating the way he is now. She can’t be bad enough to elect him if he’s determined to make this many mistakes.”

Campaigning in Florida, Trump said his campaign is “doing really well” and has “never been this well united,” then focused renewed attacks on Clinton and President Obama.

Campaign manager Paul Manafort went on cable channels early in the day to try to tamp down the rampant criticism of the nominee, saying that reports of a campaign staff in crisis were incorrect. He said the campaign is “focused” and “moving forward.”

Throughout the day, there were persistent reports that allies of Trump, including Priebus, Gingrich and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, were trying to arrange a meeting with Trump to urge him to refocus his candidacy. Manafort told Fox News he knew nothing about it. “Not me,” Gingrich emailed when asked if he were part of an upcoming meeting.

A party strategist said, “It doesn’t take a genius to know that calling Donald Trump and yelling at him is never going to work.”

At past moments of crisis in the campaign, Trump’s children have played an influential role, but Bloomberg Politics reported Wednesday that Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump had left for a hunting trip outside the country.

Friends and allies of Manafort disputed reports that the top adviser had given up on Trump, describing him as fully committed to waging a successful campaign. But they said Manafort has been frustrated by Trump’s apparent lack of discipline.

“Paul has good influence with Donald,” said Charlie Black, a former business partner of Manafort. “But he’s Donald and he’s going to operate stream of consciousness a lot of times. You just hope he’ll have more days on message than days on consciousness.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.