Media salivates over Trump gaffes, fueling speculation of 'imploding' campaign

Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump attends a campaign event in Daytona Beach, Florida on August 3, 2016 © Eric Thayer
It’s been a no-good, very bad week for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and the GOP, marked by controversial statements, disagreements and public backlash. But how much of the problems are from the media making a mountain out of a molehill?

From party desertions over Trump’s multi-day spat with a Gold Star father to the candidate’s ejection of a crying baby at a campaign rally, the mainstream media has had a field day with the myriad missteps by the billionaire businessman and his surrogates.

“There is something very wrong with Donald Trump,”read the headline of a Washington Post Op-Ed on Monday. “He is a defective candidate who can’t even control himself,” added the article’s preview on Facebook.

CNBC listed 15 Trump gaffes and Republican reactions that took place between 8 a.m. Tuesday morning and the same time on Wednesday, supposedly proving the candidate and party have gone from “unraveling” to “‘break glass’ mode.”

Raw Story created its own smaller list of “crazy, totally unhinged moments” that showed “Trump’s descent into madness.”

There has also been much innuendo about his campaign staff refusing to go down with the imploding ship. Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort is “done,” a long-time ally told CNBC.

"Manafort not challenging [Trump] anymore," his ally wrote in an email. "Mailing it in. Staff suicidal."

Trump has denied that there is anything wrong amid his campaign, however.

"The idea that Paul Manafort's mailing it in is completely erroneous,” campaign spokesman Jason Miller told CNBC in response. “Our campaign just finished up our strongest month of fundraising to date, we're adding talented and experienced staffers on a daily basis, and Mr. Trump's turning out bigger, more enthusiastic crowds than Hillary Clinton ever could."

Despite the campaign’s assurances to the contrary, heavy-hitters in the GOP are planning an “intervention” ‒ or strategic review ‒ to try to convince Trump to change his approach, according to Fox News. Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair Reince Priebus, along with Trump surrogates former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia) and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, are hoping to convince Trump’s family to take part in the intervention, NBC News reported.

While some may think that he’s merely rearranging the chairs on the Titanic as it sinks, Trump has been remarkably quiet on his Twitter feed, at least when it comes to his typical multi-tweet attacks and feuds ‒ which has included several fire marshals at campaign stops this week.

Last week, during the Democratic National Convention, members of the rival party repeatedly called Trump“thin-skinned” and easy to bait. Yet this week, he doesn’t appear to be rising to that bait.

His response to an attack by President Barack Obama on Tuesday ‒ in which the commander-in-chief said Trump is “unfit to serve as president” and called on the GOP to denounce him ‒ was a far cry from his normal knee-jerk reactions.

It could be, however, that he’s taken those responses from social media into the real world. Trump has made some of his attacks a part of his stump speech: He’s repeatedly said that the November election “is going to be rigged” and referred to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton as “the Devil.”

In an interview, he played hardball with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), using the congressman’s own language to refuse to endorse Ryan in his primary race. Of course, like the speaker’s tepid endorsement, Trump could “get there” eventually. On Wednesday, the nominee’s vice presidential pick, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana, endorsed the House’s top Republican.

“I strongly support Paul Ryan, strongly endorse his re-election,” Pence told Fox News. “He’s a longtime friend. He’s a strong conservative leader. I believe we need Paul Ryan in leadership.”

Yet the perceived problems don’t appear to actually be hurting Trump’s popularity ‒ or his fundraising ability.

In the month of July, Trump and the RNC raised $64 million, the bulk of it from small donations, in a joint digital and direct mail campaign, the New York Times reported, citing the Trump campaign. Overall, the GOP and its nominee raised $82 million, with the presidential candidate raising, “with small donors, $35.8 million. I believe it’s 517,000 donors,” Trump said at a rally on Monday.

During the same month, Clinton raised $63 million, with the Democratic National Committee raising an additional $26 million. In May, there was a massive $23 million fundraising gap between the two campaigns ‒ especially considering Bernie Sanders was still in the Democratic race. The Vermont senator raised $15.6 million that month.