Key Republicans close to Donald Trump’s orbit are plotting an intervention with the candidate after a disastrous 48 hours led some influential voices in the party to question whether Trump can stay at the top of the Republican ticket without catastrophic consequences for his campaign and the GOP at large.
Republican National Committee head Reince Priebus, former Republican New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are among the Trump endorsers hoping to talk the real estate mogul into a dramatic reset of his campaign in the coming days, sources tell NBC News.
The group of GOP heavyweights hopes to enlist the help of Trump’s children — who comprise much of his innermost circle of influential advisers — to aid in the attempt to rescue his candidacy. Trump’s family is considered to have by far the most influence over the candidate’s thinking at what could be a make-or-break moment for his campaign.
Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort said Wednesday he had heard nothing of such a meeting and disputed that it would be necessary, saying on FOX News that "the only need we have for an intervention is with some media types who keep saying things that aren’t true."
"The candidate's in control of his own campaign," he said.
GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence also told FOX News he has "never heard anything about a meeting of that kind," dismissing the idea as "inside baseball discussions."
But a source familiar with the discussions around a planned meeting tells NBC News "the intervention is real, and overdue."
The idea of an intervention is in its early stages, and there’s no guarantee that Trump’s team would entertain a conversation requiring such comprehensive changes for a candidate who has resisted calls to moderate his tone or reel in his most outlandish political positions.
Stunned Republicans began seriously considering the idea of an exit ramp after an extraordinary few days during which Trump continually lashed out against a Gold Star family critical of his position on Muslim immigration, declared that he’d “always wanted” a Purple Heart but that it’s “easier” to receive one as a gift, and declined to endorse top Republican candidates including House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Sources in the candidate's orbit tell NBC News Trump is aware of the dissatisfaction within the party. But while some labeled the state of affairs “Crazytown” and “worse than ever,” they also described a sense of powerlessness, bemoaning the fact there’s “nothing that we can do, that anybody can do right now.”
There's absolutely no indication Trump is considering leaving the race, a move that would seem wildly out of character for a candidate who has prided himself on “winning” and grasped at any poll that shows him dominating an opponent. Still, some Republicans are quietly considering the arcane mechanics of what would happen to the party’s ticket if Trump was to leave the presidential race.
Adviser Kellyanne Conway disputed the notion that Trump would bolt the ticket, saying, "I would push back on any formal report that the candidate is going to leave the race."
And it's clear that deep unease within the Republican Party is continuing to fester, despite party officials’ efforts to turn the corner with a parade of "unity" pageantry of the GOP convention two weeks ago.