CNN's Carol Costello: Trump “Went Full Bannon” By Attacking Paul Ryan And The GOP

USA Today's Paul Singer: This Is “The Fallout Of The Republican Civil War" 

From the October 11 edition of CNN's CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello

Video file

CAROL COSTELLO (HOST): All right. That was a very cute moment, right? But then Trump went full Bannon, as in Steve Bannon playing dirty, attacking Clinton, the media, and his fellow Republicans. Bannon is on leave as the executive chairman of Breitbart News and currently serves as the CEO of the Trump campaign. With me now to discuss Washington correspondent for USA Today Paul Singer and CNN political commentator David Swerdlick, he's also assistant editor at The Washington Post. Welcome to both of you. So, David, if you look at Breitbart's front page this morning, Breitbart is a blog, Steve Bannon runs that site. It's like Trump's strategy online for everyone to see, right? 

DAVID SWERDLICK: Yeah. No, look, the strategy that we've seen from Donald Trump the past couple of days is what Breitbart readers, what the new right, the alt-right, if you will, wants to hear from him. Look, go back to Friday night. People were openly speculating that Trump might drop out of the race because of the Access Hollywood tape. He was defiant. He was defiant in the debate, in the debate, whether it repulsed Democrats or swing voters. For the Breitbart crowd, the idea of calling Hillary Clinton a hypocrite, the idea of saying the country has run amuck on political correctness, not mincing words with his disagreement with the establishment of both parties, that is what they wanted to hear. And they're banking on this idea that defiance is going to bring Trump's core supporters out to vote and in a turnout election, that's what counts. 

COSTELLO: So Paul, just to follow up on what David just said, The Washington Post is reporting that Bannon is now at Trump's side telling him to ignore the number of Republicans repudiating him and to concentrate on targeting Clinton. Here's another example of that this morning. Donald Trump just tweeting this, I guess moments ago, he said, “Our very weak and ineffective leader, Paul Ryan, had a bad conference call where his members went wild at his disloyalty.” So he's continuing like to attack Paul Ryan, to attack his fellow Republicans, to attack virtually everyone. 

PAUL SINGER: Right. What you are seeing is the beginning of -- not even the beginning, but the fallout of Republican civil war. There is a faction of the Republican Party that is basically much more irate and much more angry. I've been referring to them as for a while as the pitch fork-wing of the party that believes we should just throw all the bums out. Get rid of our own leadership, get rid of the Democrats, get rid of Washington. Donald Trump is embracing that group and they've been a very powerful group in Congress, but not a majority. That's the problem. They're a very loud minority. They were able to basically get rid of Speaker John Boehner. But they haven't been able to pass any legislation. So you end up with a situation where in Paul Ryan's case he's doing what he thinks is best for the whole party, particularly protecting the Senate and Republican majority in the House. But there's still this group, this pitch fork group that is outraged. How dare you side with our opposition? How dare you turn your back on Trump? That’s a real problem for the Republicans.

COSTELLO: It's just these attacks one after another, David. It never lets up. Now it's Paul Ryan. Before it was somebody else. It's just -- actually, I know this is going a little deep, but I want to quote something that Richard Nixon said. On the day he resigned, Richard Nixon said, “Always remember, others may hate you but those who hate don't win unless you hate them and then you destroy yourself.” So it almost seems, David, that Trump is so blinded by anger and dislike he can't see that the strategy just isn't working. 

SWERDLICK: Well, I think he understands that he can read a poll number, right? And he sees that in the Wall Street Journal poll, for instance, that he's down by 11. Since the first debate and certainly since the Access Hollywood tape, he has lost ground against Clinton nationally and in swing states, but he also as a matter of policy throughout his public life has refused to back down and refused to apologize when he's been cornered. My colleagues, Bob O'Harrow and Shawn Boburg reported about this in June. This is something that Trump does. It's not random. He believes the right strategy in almost any instance is to push forward, not to be contrite but never to acknowledge he's made mistakes. And when you have a situation with Ryan, right, he sees Ryan as standing in his way, challenging him when he believes the party should be folding in behind him as the nominee. And frankly with Ryan, I have to say, Carol, Ryan, this is partly in a situation of his own making. He's in a lose-lose because he's got to protect the members of the Republican caucus of the House of which he's the leader. And at the same time as one of the leaders of the party, he can't just, completely throw Trump in the trash, but, this is partly of his own making. There was a time in this race, back in March when Mitt Romney said full throatedly, don't do this, Republicans, when other Republican major figures could have gone that way. But they got behind Trump and now this is where they are with him as the sort of guy who's falling in the polls but defiant against his own party members. 


Bloomberg's John Heilemann: “The Republican Party Is In A Full-Scale, Broad-Gauge Meltdown”

NBC's Chuck Todd: Republicans “May Be Staring At A Total Collapse Of The Party By Election Day” 

NBC's Lester Holt: There’s An “Urgent Crisis Exploding Inside The Republican Party”