Republican party leaders scrambled to persuade Donald Trump to abandon the divisive tactics that have triggered sinking poll numbers and low morale.
However with their party in crisis, there was one piece of good news with superstar actor and director Clint Eastwood praising the billionaire tycoon for being an enemy of political correctness.
‘Donald Trump is on to something’
Clint Eastwood said Mr Trump was “on to something” as an enemy of political correctness, adding: “Everybody’s walking on eggshells. We see people accusing people of being racist and all kinds of stuff. When I grew up, those things weren’t called racist.”
Although Eastwood said he was not endorsing anyone, when asked to choose between Mr Trump and Mrs Clinton, he said: “I’d have to go for Trump … ’cause she’s declared that she’s gonna follow in Obama’s footsteps. There’s been just too much funny business on both sides of the aisle.”
The actor, 86, delighted the internet in 2012 when he spoke at the Republican national convention and appeared to speak to an empty chair.
On accusations The Donald is racist, Clint urged people to “get over it”.
“What Trump is onto is he’s just saying what’s on his mind. And sometimes it’s not so good. And sometimes it’s… I mean, I can understand where he’s coming from, but I don’t always agree with it,” he said.
The 86-year-old’s new film Sully – about Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the airline pilot who became a national hero when he safely landed a US Airways plane on the Hudson River off Manhattan in 2009 – opens in September.
Meanwhile, Republican party chairman Reince Priebus appealed to Mr Trump’s adult children to help amid new signs of a campaign in trouble.
Mr Trump’s operation has been beset by internal discord, including growing concern about election preparedness and a lack of support from Republican leaders.
One source said Mr Trump privately blames his own staff for failing to stop the backlash from his own party after he criticised an American Muslim family whose son, a US Army captain, was killed in Iraq.
The inner tension comes as Mr Priebus and other high-profile Trump allies consider whether to confront the candidate directly to encourage a new approach following a series of startling statements.
In the middle of the uproar over his continued criticism of the Khan family, Mr Trump infuriated Mr Priebus and other party leaders by refusing to endorse Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan’s re-election.
Mr Trump on Wednesday dismissed suggestions that the frustration was hurting his campaign, even as he openly contemplated losing.
“Wouldn’t that be embarrassing to lose to crooked Hillary Clinton? That would be terrible,” he said during a campaign stop in battleground Florida. He also insisted: “We’ve never been this united.”
“The candidate is in control of his campaign,” campaign chairman Paul Manafort told Fox News Channel, highlighting his inability to control the nominee. “And I’m in control of doing the things that he wants me to do in the campaign.”
“I would say in the last couple of weeks, he has been remarkably under-performing and we’ll see whether or not he can take a deep breath and learn these lessons,” said former house speaker Newt Gingrich.
Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, kept up her assault on Mr Trump’s business practices, holding up a Trump-branded tie as she spoke at the Knotty Tie Company in battleground Colorado.
She told employees in Denver: “I really would like him to explain why he paid Chinese workers to make Trump ties, instead of deciding to make those ties right here in Colorado.”
Mr Trump stunned Republicans by saying on Tuesday that he was not ready to endorse Mr Ryan, who faces a primary contest in Wisconsin next week.
Mr Ryan has backed Mr Trump despite deep differences on policy and temperament, and has encouraged other Republicans to unite behind the party’s nominee.
The tycoon’s vice presidential nominee, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, said he spoke to Mr Trump on Wednesday morning “about my support for Paul Ryan and our long-time friendship”.
Mr Pence said: “He strongly encouraged me to endorse Paul Ryan in next Tuesday’s primary. And I’m pleased to do it.”