— -- Just as Donald Trump’s campaign thought the dust had settled on his prolonged public battle with the family of slain Army Capt. Humayan Khan, the GOP nominee suggested last week that “Second Amendment people” could prevent Hillary Clinton from being able to choose Supreme Court justices.
And then he declared, over 20 times in just two days, that President Barack Obama was the “founder of ISIS,” only to then say he was being sarcastic but “not that sarcastic.”
To conclude Trump’s trying week, The New York Times issued a blistering report Saturday afternoon, anonymously quoting over 20 sources who attested to the turmoil within the campaign.
He responded by assailing the Times in a series of tweets, blasting the newspaper and the press in general, repeating a claim he made on Friday that he would be beating Clinton in the polls if it weren’t for the media. “I will tell you honestly, I’m not running against crooked Hillary. I’m running against the crooked media. That’s what I’m running against,” Trump said in Connecticut Saturday evening. “It’s true. I’m not running against crooked Hillary.”
And so begins Trump’s week. His campaign is attempting to forge ahead with a focus — again — on policy. Today he will deliver remarks in the battleground state of Ohio, laying out a plan for combating Islamic terrorism. This comes as part of a concerted effort on behalf of senior staff members to keep him on message with a policy-based speech each week. Last week he rolled out an updated version of his economic plan in Detroit.
But controversy still dogs the campaign. Sources told ABC News that staffers remain frustrated with Trump, who has been having a hard time adjusting from the primaries to the general election and the rigors that come with it.
To help change the campaign’s trajectory, he is now increasingly being joined on the trail by a travel companion, such as a top-level surrogate, party official or member of his family. We saw a soft rollout of that plan with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus joining him last week.
As Republicans publicly and privately continue to question their nominee — even as Trump maintains that his operation is sound and his campaign is unified — sources told ABC News that behind the scenes the campaign is constantly having to quell the concerns of nervous party members. Attempting to build bridges for his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has met with top Republicans like former candidate Jeb Bush and Arizona Sen. John McCain.
An aide to Ohio Gov. John Kasich told ABC News the two governors have been trying to reach one another over the phone but haven’t been able to speak yet. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Pence also called Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Pence promised voters in Lancaster, Pa., last week that Trump would begin laying out more substantial policy proposals.
“Donald Trump laid out the first of what will be a series of major addresses on a broad range of policies that will articulate our ... vision for a new administration in Washington, D.C.,” Pence said.
A senior level campaign source said Trump “just needs to focus on [Clinton].”