As virtually everyone condemns him for his appalling attack on John McCain, Donald Trump is, true to form, not backing down but doubling down. On ABC on Sunday morning, he tried to make it all about caring for veterans, which is just an attempt to change the subject, and said he thinks it will help him in the campaign:
RADDATZ: So let me just get this clear. You are not apologizing. And you are certainly not pulling out of the race as some of your opponents have suggested.
TRUMP: Of course they’d love to have me do that because I’m leading the pack. I’m certainly not pulling out; I’m leading and I’m leading in many states. North Carolina just came in; I’m way in the lead there. Nevada, as I said, just came in. I’m way in the lead there. And, interestingly, in Nevada, I lead in Hispanics by a tremendous — the Hispanics, I’m way into the 30s with Hispanics. Which I said, if I get the nomination, if I run for president, I will win the Hispanic vote, because I’ll be able to take jobs back from China, jobs back from Japan and Mexico, and everybody else that’s ripping us off on trade. And everybody knows that. And I will win the Hispanic vote.
RADDATZ: So you think this will actually help you? This is involving veterans and you heard what I said about those veterans groups. You still think this will help you in the polls?
TRUMP: I believe that I will do far more for veterans than John McCain has done for many, many years, with all talk no action. He’s on television all the time, talking, talking. Nothing gets done. You look at what’s happening to our veterans — they’re being decimated, OK. So I will do far more for veterans than anybody. I’ll be able to build them new hospitals, I’ll be able to build them care centers. I’ll be able to help the veterans.
John McCain has failed. Because all you have to do is take a look — what you report on all the time, take a look at the scandal at the Veterans’ Administration and the disastrous conditions under which our veterans have to live. And believe me, I built, with a small group, the Vietnam Memorial in downtown Manhattan. I know what it is to help people and I know what it is to help veterans.
As David Kurts at Talking Points Memo put it, he won’t back down because he can’t back down. It just isn’t who he is:
From that clumsy pivot came a Facebook post and a series of tweets, all in which Trump seems to try to be yelling ever more loudly over the din of condemnation from his fellow candidates and from his own party for having savaged McCain.
The he-man brand Trump has built for himself and which is at the root of his appeal doesn’t allow him to apologize or recant or soften. Trump thrives on these confrontations, and they are what define him to his for-the-moment supporters. He can only get louder and more over the top. He later took a shot at Mitt Romney, too, because like McCain, he is a loser to Obama. Losers both.
And as the Washington Post points out, Trump endorsed McCain in 2008 and accompanied it with a lecture about how no one shows any respect anymore:
It’s worth noting that Trump endorsed McCain during the latter’s 2008 bid for the presidency. At the time, Trump said that McCain was “a man worthy of respect.” He continued: “And this country no longer has respect. What we need more than anything else is just that word: Respect.”
This is Donald Trump. This is why I predicted the day that he announced his candidacy that his campaign will implode in a spectacular way. He has no advisers who can tell him to shut the fuck up and he wouldn’t listen to them if he did have them. He says whatever is on his mind and acts like a troll in an AOL chat room most of the time. And his ego will never allow him to admit that he’s wrong.
I’d say there’s a pretty good chance that Trump will end up running as an independent candidate once he’s bounced out of the Republican race. And that would be a very good thing for the Democrats.