Donald Trump faced an avalanche of fresh criticism Monday for questioning Sen. John McCain’s heroism. But he’s getting no pressure at all from the one community that could push a candidate out of the 2016 presidential race: political donors. The billionaire businessman is paying for his own campaign, and that means Republicans may have him around far longer than some party leaders would like. ‘Nobody leaves a race because they get tired, or because they think they don’t have the votes. They leave the race because they run out of money,’ said Frank Luntz, a GOP pollster. ‘Donald Trump will never run out of money, and that makes him incredibly powerful.’
Indeed, Republican operatives suggest that Trump enjoys a rare freedom. Because he doesn’t need tens of millions of dollars from wealthy donors – a notoriously risk-averse crowd – the standard rules of politics simply don’t apply. He can afford, literally, to continue dropping the verbal bombs that have defined his presidential campaign since the day he joined the 2016 contest in June. At his formal announcement last month, Trump said illegal immigrants from Mexico are prisoners and rapists. Then, at a conservative summit in Iowa last weekend, he dismissed McCain’s reputation as a war hero, saying of the Arizona senator who was once a prisoner in Vietnam, ‘I like people who weren’t captured.’ Critics began piling on Trump immediately, and new voices emerged on Monday, from veterans groups, Republican colleagues and President Barack Obama’s spokesman, who defended McCain and called on Trump to apologize.
Yet the self-funded Trump has shown little sign of backing down. He leveled new criticism against the McCain on Monday, saying the senator had made America ‘less safe’ through his votes in Congress. The real estate executive also lashed out at fellow GOP presidential aspirants who have criticized his remarks, calling them ‘failed politicians.’ Trump said he did not need ‘to be lectured by any of them.’ ‘If he were dependent on donors for his campaign, he would find the vast majority of donors would be looking for other candidates at this point,’ said Fred Malek, who has raised money for Republican presidential hopefuls for four decades.