BLUFFTON, S.C. — Donald Trump pushed back harder Tuesday against
Republicans fed up with his provocations, disclosing one opponent’s cell number
in a fiery speech and lowering flags to half-staff on his properties as part of
an in-your-face escalation of the feud.
Fellow GOP presidential contender Sen. Lindsey Graham, whose number Trump read
to an audience, called him a “jackass,” only to see floods of Trump supporters jam his phone line.
Probably getting a new phone. iPhone or Android?
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) July 21, 2015
Graham’s voice mailbox was full Tuesday afternoon, said spokeswoman Brittany Brammell.
Trump is at odds with much of the Republican establishment after a series
of incendiary comments, topped by his weekend mocking of U.S. Sen. John
McCain’s experience as a tortured prisoner of war in Vietnam.
Since then the real estate developer and reality TV host has intensified his
criticism of McCain (R-Ariz.) and his record on veterans issues in the Senate even as
politicians from both parties and veterans groups have rushed to his defense.
In a speech to hundreds of supporters in Bluffton, S.C., on Tuesday, Trump kept
up that drumbeat, accusing McCain of being soft on illegal immigration.
“He’s totally about open borders and all this stuff,” Trump said. McCain
sparked Trump’s temper last week when he said his inflammatory remarks about
Mexican immigrants had brought out the “crazies.”
And, he said Tuesday he
would no longer respond to Trump’s comments.
Graham, a McCain friend and one of the 16 notable Republicans running for the
presidential nomination, betrayed the growing exasperation and anger of many in
the party when he appeared earlier on “CBS This Morning.”
“Don’t be a jackass,” Graham said. “Run for president. But don’t be the
world’s biggest jackass.”
He said Trump had “crossed the line with the American people” and predicted
this would be “the beginning of the end with Donald Trump.”
Trump responded during his speech by calling Graham an “idiot” and a
“lightweight.” He then held up a piece of paper and read out the senator’s
cellphone number to the capacity crowd of 540 people and the TV audience.
“Give it a shot,” Trump encouraged. “He won’t fix anything, but I think
he’ll talk to you.”
Christian Ferry, Graham’s campaign manager said Trump “continues to show
hourly that he is ill-prepared to be commander in chief.”
The back-and-forth is the latest in a series of showdowns between Trump and
fellow GOP candidates frustrated by Trump’s brash campaign, which has often
overshadowed their own in recent weeks.