The GOP nominee had many rough moments on the trail this week
He got into a public dispute with a Gold Star family, trashed Hillary Clinton and fought with the GOP elite
In most campaign seasons, the days following the conventions are counted on to provide a bit of a breather ahead of the sprint to Election Day. But 2016 is a different beast – and Donald Trump a unique candidate. This past week delivered a volume of political attacks, zingers, morality plays and controversies unseen in modern politics.
Here are 20 eye-popping headlines surrounding the Republican nominee from the last seven days:
1. Picked a fight with the parents of slain American soldier, Capt. Humayun Khan
Last Saturday, less than 48 hours after Khizr Khan, the soldier’s father, called him out during an impassioned speech at the DNC, Trump on ABC accused Khan of having read from a Clinton campaign script and compared his own sacrifices (“I work very, very hard”) to those made by the Khan family.
2. Escalated the fight, bringing in the Khan family’s religion
Both in the ABC interview and another with The New York Times, Trump suggested that Khan’s mother had been prevented from speaking (“Maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say”), implying it was because she and her husband are Muslim.
3. Continued to attack, on Twitter, Khan’s parents – for being on TV too much
On Monday, Trump tweeted twice to complain that Khan’s father was spending too much time on television.
First: “Mr. Khan, who does not know me, viciously attacked me from the stage of the DNC and is now all over T.V. doing the same - Nice!”
Then: “This story is not about Mr. Khan, who is all over the place doing interviews, but rather RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISM and the U.S. Get smart!”
4. That thing with the crying baby
About 90 seconds after saying he didn’t mind a crying baby at a rally in Ashburn, Virginia on Tuesday, Trump reversed course: “Actually, I was only kidding, you can get the baby out of here. That’s alright. Don’t worry. I think (the mom) really believed me that I love having a baby crying while I’m speaking.” (The mother of the crying baby, however, was not asked to leave the venue.)
Trump revisited on the issue on Friday, assuring supporters he loves babies and musing that the child could be “the next great Pavarotti.”
5. Said he wouldn’t endorse – then taunted – the highest-ranking Republican in the nation
Party unity? Not quite. Trump on Tuesday told The Washington Post he wouldn’t endorse House Speaker Paul Ryan, saying, “I’m not quite there yet.” The language seemed oddly familiar to that used by Ryan himself, talking about Trump, in May. (“I’m not there right now.”) But wait, there’s more to this story …
6. His campaign rumbled and grumbled about him
Usually, it works the other way around. Candidates fire campaign managers and staff. On Tuesday night, the tables seemed to be turning.
A GOP source told CNN’s Dana Bash that some staffers, up to and including boss Paul Manafort, “feel like they are wasting their time.” Trump officials have denied any discord.
7. Has repeatedly beat up … local fire marshals?
Trump has accused two of them of stifling his rallies by enforcing crowd size restrictions. The first time he did it, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, came a few hours after he and his security detail were rescued from a stalled elevator – by the fire department.
8. Suggested the general election could be rigged
“I’m telling you, November 8, we’d better be careful, because that election is going to be rigged,” he said on Monday night. “And I hope the Republicans are watching closely or it’s going to be taken away from us.”
His comments came in the wake of a string of polls showing Clinton with a new post-conventions lead, and continued the claim at a Tuesday rally in Virginia.
“It’s a crooked system,” Trump told supporters. “We’re running against a rigged system, and we’re running against a dishonest media.”
9. Called Hillary Clinton “the devil”
After saying Sen. Bernie Sanders had made a “deal with the devil” by endorsing Clinton, Trump added for clarity: “She’s the devil.”
(Clinton was downgraded to a mere “monster” later in the week.)
10. Said he hoped his daughter would leave her job if she were sexually harassed
Asked by Fox News contributor and USA Today columnist Kirsten Powers how he thought his daughter might respond to being harassed in the workplace, Trump said: “I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case.”
11. His son Eric said Ivanka “wouldn’t allow herself” to be sexually harassed
Called in to clean up his dad’s mess, Eric Trump only tracked in more mud.
“Ivanka is a strong, powerful woman, she wouldn’t allow herself to be (subjected) to it,” he said during an interview on CBS, “and by the way, you should take it up with human resources, and I think she would as a strong person, at the same time, I don’t think she would allow herself to be subjected to that.”
12. Lost the vote of at least one Republican congressman – and a couple more GOP power players
Retiring GOP Rep. Richard Hanna wrote that he would vote for Clinton over Trump, describing the latter in an op-ed as being “deeply flawed in endless ways.” Hanna was the first Republican congressman to cross party lines. A longtime aide to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and a big money GOP fundraiser followed suit, and Jeb Bush’s top adviser told CNN’s Jamie Gangel she has left the party and would cast a vote for Clinton in swing-state Florida if the race there is close.
13. Said he would not allow Russia, currently in Ukraine, into Ukraine
Or maybe he meant further into Ukraine? In his ABC interview last weekend – the same one in which he attacked the Khans – Trump said of Russian President Vladimir Putin: “He’s not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He’s not going to go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down.”
When host George Stephanopoulos noted that Putin was already there, having annexed Crimea in 2014, Trump gave another puzzling response.
“OK – well, he’s there in a certain way,” he said. “But I’m not there. You have Obama there.”
The nominee sought to clarify his point on Twitter, blaming Obama for the current situation while pledging to prevent any new incursions.
14. Ate KFC – with a fork and knife – aboard his private jet, then posted a picture of it online
Perhaps the high point of the week.
15. Fired one of his top campaign aides
In addition to replacing some state directors, the campaign canned Ed Brookover, who helped manage Trump’s delegate operations in the lead-up to the convention. The move came a little more than six weeks after Brookover was named the campaign’s liaison to the Republican National Committee.
16. Got advice from Jan Brewer to “tone it down”
The former Arizona governor – who once confronted President Barack Obama on an airport tarmac in full view of the national press – said during a radio interview with KTAR 92.3 FM’s Mac and Gaydos that she wished Trump “would tone it down a little bit.”
17. Said he was leading Kelly Ayotte, a Republican senator running for re-election, in the polls
After Ayotte, a GOP senator caught in a tough race to keep her seat, criticized Trump over the Khan family mess, the nominee said: “You have a Kelly Ayotte who doesn’t want to talk about Trump, but I’m beating her in the polls by a lot.”
(Note: Ayotte is running against Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat. Not Trump.)
18. Endorsed Paul Ryan after Paul Ryan threatened to un-endorse him
On Thursday, two days after Trump refused to endorse Ryan in his coming primary contests, Ryan returned fire, saying he wouldn’t rule out withdrawing his support for Trump.
“He’s had a pretty strange run since the convention,” the speaker told a Wisconsin radio host.
The next day, Trump made nice during a campaign stop in Green Bay.
“We will have disagreements, but we will disagree as friends and never stop working together toward victory. And very importantly, toward real change,” he said, reading from prepared remarks. “So in our shared mission, to make America great again, I support and endorse our speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.”
19. Admitted he did not see a video that showed the U.S. paying Iran $400 million
After repeatedly claiming he had seen footage of the payment – compensation tied to a decades-old debt – during the week, Trump tweeted a reversal early Friday: “The plane I saw on television was the hostage plane in Geneva, Switzerland, not the plane carrying $400 million in cash going to Iran!”
Trump had actually viewed video from news reports showing American prisoners arriving in Switzerland after being released by the Iranians.
20. Reflected on a busy seven days
So what would Trump have changed if he got a do-over on the past week?
“Maybe,” he said Friday, “I would’ve done a little bit less.”