Donald J. Trump’s continuing hostility toward the parents of a slain Muslim American soldier, and his attacks on Republican leaders who have rebuked him for it, threaten to shatter his uneasy alliance with the Republican Party at the outset of the general election campaign.
Ignoring the pleas of his advisers and entreaties from party leaders in Washington, Mr. Trump only dug in further on Tuesday. He told a Virginia television station that he had no regrets about his clash with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of an Army captain killed in Iraq. And in an extraordinarily provocative interview with The Washington Post, Mr. Trump declined to endorse for re-election several Republicans who had criticized him, including the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin,and Senator John McCain of Arizona, who both face primaries this month.
For days, Mr. Trump’s top advisers and allies have urged him to move on from the feud, which erupted when Mr. Khan criticized him at the Democratic convention, and focus instead on the economy and the national security record of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. Yet, facing outcry on the left and right, Mr. Trump has insisted to associates that he has been treated unfairly by Mr. Khan, the news media and some Republicans, said people familiar with the campaign’s deliberations who insisted on anonymity to discuss them.
Republicans now say Mr. Trump’s obstinacy in addressing perhaps the gravest crisis of his campaign may spur drastic defections in the party, and Republican lawmakers and strategists have begun to entertain abandoning him en masse.
Mrs. Clinton, who explicitly courted Republicans at last week’s convention, has already picked up a few telling Republican endorsements: Meg Whitman, the Hewlett Packard Enterprise executive who ran for governor of California as a Republican, and Representative Richard Hanna of New York, a moderate Republican. Both denounced Mr. Trump’s treatment of the Khan family.
In Mr. Trump’s five-day confrontation with a military family, Republicans have found the most agonizing test yet of their relationship with a candidate who has flouted political conventions around religion, race, gender and now military service. Republican strategists who once imagined Mr. Trump could be brought under control in a general election all but openly acknowledged this week that that prospect had vanished.
But the party has not yet come close to abandoning Mr. Trump’s candidacy: Most of the lawmakers who have denounced him for fighting with the Khans have not said they will vote against him in the general election.
On the Trail
The presidential candidates and their running mates are in swing states, as Mrs. Clinton will campaign in Commerce City, Colo., where she will give a speech on the economy, while Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia will speak on the same subject in Greensboro, N.C.
Mr. Trump will host two rallies in Florida, one in Daytona Beach and one in Jacksonville, and Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana will be in Colorado, where he will host a town-hall-style event in Denver and a rally in Colorado Springs.