PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. — Donald Trump fired off a pair of tweets Tuesday morning that put on full display his discontent with Republican Party leaders who have distanced themselves from his campaign, writing in one post that “the shackles have been taken off” and he can now campaign as he pleases.
The GOP presidential nominee took to his favorite social media platform, a day after House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) and senior party members said they could not defend him in the wake of leaked hot microphone audio from 2005 in which Trump makes lewd sexual comments about women.
“It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to,” Trump tweeted.
The Republican nominee’s morning Twitter session came as he began a three-day swing through the battleground state of Florida.
At a rally last night in the panhandle coastal vacation town, Panama City Beach, Trump told throngs of supporters at Aaron Bessant Park that electing Democrat Hillary Clinton “will lead to the destruction of our country.”
If he loses the presidential election on Nov. 8, Trump said, “it will be the single greatest waste of time and energy.”
In his tweets earlier Tuesday, Trump also questioned the loyalty of the Republican Party, tweeting that, “with the exception of cheating Bernie out of the nom, the Dems have always proven to be far more loyal to each other than the Republicans.”
Clinton also turned her attention to Florida Tuesday, appearing alongside former Vice President Al Gore in Miami for a campaign rally focused on climate change.
Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta told reporters Trump’s tweets were “very unbecoming of a presidential candidate.”
Trump supporters at the Panama City Beach rally, including Paul McCarty, 70, by and large said they would remain loyal to him, despite the growing schism between the nominee’s campaign and GOP leaders.
“They don’t want him because he’s rocking the boat,” said McCarty, a retired construction worker from Santa Rosa Beach, about 32 miles northwest of where Trump held his rally. “They know that once he’s in office things will never be the same.”
Camilla Meyerson, 70, a job recruiter, said she was not insulted by Trump’s comments captured on the video, saying they were all part of a persona he has adopted to build his business empire.
“These big tycoons are larger than life,” Meyerson said. “They swagger in with these larger than life personalities because it’s a part of doing business.”
Before Trump took the stage at about 9:30 p.m., former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani warmed up the crowd with an attack on Clinton’s trustworthiness.
“It is impossible to know if Hillary Clinton is telling the truth,” Giuliani said. “We might be dealing with a pathological liar. She could possibly pass a polygraph while she was lying.”
Trump’s Florida trek comes as state polls show him trailing Clinton by an average of 2.4 points according to the poll-tracking website, Real Clear Politics.
The polls were conducted before the tape surfaced and before a New York Times report indicated Trump avoided paying federal income taxes for 18 years after declaring a nearly billion dollar loss to the IRS. Recent national polls show Trump has taken a hit from the latest campaign scandals. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Monday showed Trump trailing Clinton by 11 points.
Trump will appear in Ocala and Lakeland today, and is slated to headline a rally in West Palm Beach tomorrow afternoon before jetting off to campaign in Cincinnati.