GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has been “in the middle of nowhere” in his quest for the White House, but he’s been in the “zone” to be the party’s nominee for weeks, according to a former aide to Sen. John McCain.
McCain’s running mate, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, has been the presumptive GOP nominee in the race to become president for months, but his campaign has been in turmoil since his vice presidential pick, Mike Pence, withdrew and the Trump campaign was forced to disavow his support on Saturday.
The McCain campaign’s first two weeks were dominated by an investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia, and a string of other controversies.
The campaign announced that it had hired former FBI Director Robert Mueller, and the campaign has released a list of more than 100 potential running mates, including Trump’s daughter Ivanka, and House Speaker Paul Ryan.
The former aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue, said McCain was in “the zone” to run the campaign and was “very confident” he would get the nomination.
Trump has consistently maintained that he would not run for the GOP nomination, but many on the right and left are now openly questioning his loyalty and his fitness for the presidency.
The Trump campaign’s most prominent figure to do so, the New York businessman Steve Bannon, also announced last week that he was dropping out of the race.
The Arizona senator has been out of Washington for months and had been traveling widely and doing events with foreign dignitaries.
In a Saturday appearance on CNN, Trump said he would be running again.
But he was forced out of those events in a show of solidarity with his campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who was forced earlier this month to resign after a trove of emails revealed he had paid $11.5 million to a pro-Russia lobbying firm, and to his former campaign manager, Paul Papadopoulos.
In an interview on CNN Sunday, Trump defended his decision to drop Manafort and Papadopolous.
“You know, Manafort was one of the smartest people I ever met.
He was one who was really able to see the future of a lot of things, and he got it,” Trump said.
“Paul Papadopoulous, well, I think he’s doing great.”
But the Trump camp is bracing for a fresh start in Arizona, a state that has been a bellwether of the Trump phenomenon.
The GOP establishment is wary of Trump’s political viability in the state and is counting on the state to be a test case for the viability of his candidacy.
The Trump campaign has hired a consultant to help prepare for the upcoming election, and it has also hired former Arizona GOP chairman Greg Gianforte, who has repeatedly faced accusations of assault.
But a recent poll shows that Arizona Republicans are backing Trump by wide margins, with more than one-third of the state’s voters backing him.