The Daily Donald: GOP now in full panic mode as Trump runs wilder

Trump remains defiant as GOP's Reince Preibus calls on him to "tone it down"

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published July 9, 2015 12:44PM (EDT)

Donald Trump                      (Reuters/Brendan Mcdermid)
Donald Trump (Reuters/Brendan Mcdermid)

As you can tell from the wall-to-wall coverage, Donald Trump is still running for president and he is now leading the Republican field in a new poll. Here are some of the latest developments:

Trump's on top in North Carolina 

A newly released poll from Public Policy Polling shows Trump leading the Republican field in North Carolina with 16 percent. Jeb Bush and Scott Walker tie for second with 12 percent. It's the first primary poll from the 2016 cycle to show Trump leading.

Gets testy during interviews 

Trump was hardly charming during a pair of recent interviews at one of his Trump properties in New York. Speaking with NBC's Katy Tur on Wednesday, Trump got downright rude.“I mean, I don’t know if you’re going to put this on television, but you don’t know what you’re talking about,” Trump barked at Tur.

Trump spent much of the interview repeatedly cutting Tur off as she attempted to ask him a series of questions. When Tur attempted a follow-up question on ISIS after Trump said his plan against the terrorist group is partly to "not act like a baby like we are right now," Trump dismissed her, saying, "Give me a break, Katy."

And when Tur asked Trump if he owned and used a gun he snapped back, "that's none of your business, Katy." Trump cut Tur off mid-sentence, yet again, after she asked him about his financial disclosures. Trump then got personal after Tur cited the Pew Research Center as an independent source to push-back against his claims that Mexican immigrants are criminals, snapping, “Don’t be naïve. You’re a very naïve person.” When Tur appeared flustered by Trump he piled on,“come on, try getting it out.”

Trump wasn't too pleased when, in a separate interview, CNN's Anderson Cooper cited other studies disproving Trump's premise that undocumented immigrants are all criminals. Trump interrupted Cooper, saying "you're not a baby, you're not a baby." Trump later budged a bit, conceding, "Let's assume that the studies, which say that I'm wrong, are true. That doesn't mean that I'm not right."

Classic Trump.

Remains defiant, says he has no regrets

Still, Trump continues to shrug all the controversy off. Trump claimed some business partners who have cut ties with him due to his remarks about Mexican immigrants have called to personally apologize to him. He never mentioned which companies. As for the businesses he has lost? No sweat. "Yeah, I'm losing some contracts. Who cares," Trump asked.

When Cooper asked Trump during his CNN interview about a tweet he retweeted this weekend that targeted Jeb Bush's wife he said he had no qualms about it,“Do I regret it? No, I don’t regret it. If he loves his wife and she’s from Mexico, I think it probably has an influence on him.”

The tweet read, Bush “has to like the Mexican Illegals because of his wife.” It was later deleted by Trump. Bush's wife is an immigrant from Mexico.

After all that's transpired, Trump doesn't think he'll have any trouble with Latinos, boldly declaring "I’ll win the Latino vote."

GOP getting nervous about Trumpmentum? 

Trump may be confident that his rhetoric isn't causing any damage to his own campaign but Republicans sure are starting to worry about the impact on the GOP. Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, spent 45 minutes on the phone with Trump Wednesday night urging him to "tone it down." According to the Washington Post, "Priebus told Trump that making inroads with Hispanics is one of his central missions as chairman. He told Trump that tone matters greatly and that Trump’s comments are more offensive than he might imagine with that bloc."

Trump and Priebus reportedly have a cordial friendship but there's no indication that Trump plans to tone his campaign down for the benefit of the GOP.

And it's back to birtherism

Trump appears unwilling to drop his birtherism even in the midst of all this other controversy. When Katy Tur began to ask Trump about his role in the birther movement he cut her off, insisting the issue remained unresolved, "well I don't know. According to you it's not true." Trump went on, "whether he did or not, who knows. A lot of people don't agree with you on that by the way."

Trump's birtherism is not limited to President Obama. In March, Trump said fellow Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz had a "hurdle" to cross because he was born in Calgary, Canada.

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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2016 Elections Donald Trump Reince Priebus Republican Party