Donald Trump's White House campaign was in turmoil on Wednesday after he angered senior Republican Party leaders by criticizing a dead soldier's family and refusing to back the re-election campaign of House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan.
On Tuesday, Trump denied both Speaker Ryan and Senator John McCain support in their coming primary contests, hitting back at critics in the Republican leadership who have taken him to task for his insistent public dispute with the parents of the soldier, a Muslim U.S. Army captain killed in the Iraq war.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus was furious over the failure to endorse Ryan, who is the most senior elected Republican, and over Trump's feud with the Khan family, two Republican sources said.
"He feels like a fool," a Republican source familiar with the situation said of Priebus.
More than any other major figure in the Republican establishment, Priebus worked to bring Trump into the party's fold despite the New York businessman's status as an outsider. Trump, who had never previously run for public office, beat 16 rivals to become the Republican presidential nominee for the Nov. 8 election.
Ahead of last month's Republican Party Convention, the RNC chairman sought to rally the fractured party behind Trump. Priebus feels burned by Trump's string of self-inflicted wounds and his refusal to observe basic decorum by giving Ryan his support.
But in what appeared to be an effort to soothe ruffled feelings, Trump's vice presidential running mate, Mike Pence, said on Wednesday he endorsed Ryan as "a strong conservative leader," and was doing so with Trump's blessing.
The Indiana governor told Fox News it takes time to build relationships in politics and that was exactly what Trump and Ryan were doing.
Trump has had a running dispute with the parents of Army Captain Humayun Khan since they took the stage at last week's Democratic National Convention. Khizr and Ghazala Khan cited the sacrifice of their son, who was killed by a car bomb in 2004, and criticized Trump's proposal to combat terrorism by temporarily banning Muslims from entering the United States.