Donald Trump vs. The Republican Party: Who Will Be Left Standing?

It's still early days in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, but one thing stands out: Donald Trump is owning the microphone.

The billionaire businessman has been a veritable gusher of non-PC bombast — most notably on the topic of Mexican immigrants — since announcing his candidacy in mid-June.

On Sunday, however, Trump turned his ire on a fellow Republican, Arizona Senator John McCain, calling the decorated Vietnam veteran a "loser" and questioning whether someone who spent more than five years as a POW can really be considered a war hero.

The statement seemed to shock Americans of all political stripes, and is yet more evidence that Trump could hurt the party's chances in the next election, says Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist.

Many Republicans are concerned that Trump "could be potentially damaging for the Republican race" and is providing ammunition for the presumed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton as the contest becomes more focused, says O'Connell.

O'Connell says tweaking McCain is a common tactic for any U.S. right-winger looking to score points with conservatives.

"If you want to stoke emotion with the base of the Republican Party to gain favour, John McCain's an easy target," he says. "But when you pick on his war record, that's where you cross the line."

Read more from Andre Mayer at CBC News

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