In a week in which he renounced conservative free trade principles, called for the political disqualification of Republicans who refused to endorse him, and enraged key GOP supporters, Donald Trump described himself as a man without a party.
"It's almost, in some ways, like, I'm running against two parties," Trump said Thursday in an interview with talk radio host Mike Gallagher.
Trump's comments come just three weeks away from the Republican Convention and as GOP leaders are attempting to come to terms with a Trump nomination and figure out a way to get behind him. But while Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to convince himself in a recent interview that Trump could pull it together, Trump was slamming the party and marginalizing two of its crucial long-time advocates, the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, on free trade.
"I'm all for free trade, " Trump said Wednesday. "The problem with free trade is you need smart people making deals. We don't have good deals. And free trade is killing us. ... [I]f we're going to deliver real change, we're going to have to reject the campaign of fear and intimidation being pushed by powerful corporations, media elites, and political dynasties. The people who rigged the system for their benefit will do anything — and say anything — to keep things exactly as they are."
Trump's Bernie Sanders-esque protectionist trade speech has driven yet another wedge between him and the Republican Party, whose influential members have expressed alarm at his policies. One of those is Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, who described Trump's stance on trade deals as "[v]ery bothersome and very damaging."
The divide between Trump and several key Republicans was only exacerbated this week when Trump slammed the "disgraceful" actions of those who wouldn't file in behind him.
"They broke their word and in my opinion, they should never be allowed to run for public office again because what they did was disgraceful," said Trump Wednesday of those like John Kasich, Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush, who have yet to endorse him.
Despite the continued turmoil in the party over the Trump nomination, the Trump Campaign feels confident that his anti-Republican trade position will end up winning him enough crossover votes from blue-color Americans in the rust belt that it won't matter. His play for Democratic voters is evident in Clinton's confused response to Trump's "oddly familiar" anti-free trade positions.