- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Donald Trump offered the billionaire’s version of an apology to Sen. John McCain, saying he might have been misunderstood in his attack — but he continued to fire at his opponents in the Republican presidential field Tuesday as a new poll showed him surging to a double-digit lead.

In one of his most brazen moves, Mr. Trump, campaigning in South Carolina, read fellow Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Lindsey Graham’s cellphone number aloud and urged his supporters to call it and let Mr. Graham know what they thought of him after Mr. Graham said Mr. Trump was “becoming a jackass.”

“You have this guy Lindsey Graham, a total lightweight — here’s a guy, in the private sector, he couldn’t get a job,” Mr. Trump said while campaigning in South Carolina, which is Mr. Graham’s home state. “Believe me — couldn’t get a job. He couldn’t do what you people did — you’re all retired as hell and rich, okay? He wouldn’t be rich. He’d be poor.”

Mr. Graham’s campaign responded by saying the two people most excited about Mr. Trump’s candidacy are President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the 2016 Democratic front-runner, because his campaign is distracting from the foreign policy failures of Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton.

Mr. Graham himself tried to make light of the situation, tweeting: “Probably getting a new phone. iPhone or Android?”

Mr. Trump has surged to the top of the GOP field since announcing his campaign, buoyed by his tough talk on immigration and by his willingness to relentlessly attack.

An ABC-Washington Post poll released late Monday found Mr. Trump with 24 percent support among Republicans nationally, trailed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at 13 percent and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 12 percent.

Mr. Trump has been feuding with Mr. McCain since the presidential hopeful made an appearance in Arizona, Mr. McCain’s home state, and the senator called Mr. Trump’s supporters “crazies.”

On Saturday, Mr. Trump initially said Mr. McCain, a prisoner of war in Vietnam for more than five years, wasn’t a war hero, then said he was a war hero because “he was captured.” Mr. Trump went on to say he preferred to celebrate those who weren’t captured.

Mr. Trump said Monday night on Fox News that he would take back his comments if there was a misunderstanding — the closest he’s come to a retraction.

But he also took credit for raising illegal immigration as a campaign issue, saying Tuesday that people who had been criticizing him over the issue are now saying he’s right.

“We brought something up that wasn’t even discussed by anybody — Democrat, Republican — wasn’t discussed, the problem that we’re having in this country, it’s a tremendous problem with the border and border security, lack of border security, and illegal immigrants,” he said. “It’s a huge problem, and now everybody’s talking about it and they’re saying I was right and people that were criticizing me two weeks ago … they’re saying off the record, Mr. Trump, you were right.”

Mr. Trump also went after former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has called on Mr. Trump to exit the race in the wake of his comments about Mr. McCain.

“He’s doing very poorly in the polls,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Perry. “He put glasses on so people will think he’s smart. It just doesn’t work — you know, people can see through the glasses.”

Mr. Perry, who flamed out of the 2012 campaign, is running again this cycle, and has changed his appearance by adding eyeglasses.

“I’m not sure Donald Trump knows what he’s for other than Donald Trump,” he said Tuesday on Fox News.

Mr. Perry, Mr. Graham, Mr. Bush and other GOP presidential hopefuls have excoriated Mr. Trump for his immigration comments, and for questioning Mr. McCain’s service.

But Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican who’s also seeking the presidential nomination, said he’s not going to join them in piling on.

“I recognize that folks in the media, that the favorite sport in the media is to encourage Republican on Republican violence. I’m not going to engage in that. Others have chosen to throw rocks at Donald Trump. I’m not going to be one of them,” Mr. Cruz told reporters at the Capitol, saying he’d prefer to focus on opposing the Iran nuclear program deal instead.

S.A. Miller contributed to this report.

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