Drama is dogging Donald Trump’s campaign after news broke Saturday that one of the Republican presidential hopeful's top advisers and closest friends had resigned from Trump’s staff.
Political consultant Roger Stone, who not only was serving as Trump’s top adviser but also has been his friend for 35 years, said Saturday afternoon he was calling it quits.
"I was proud to have played a role in the launch of your presidential campaign," read Stone's email. "Your message of ‘Make America Great Again’ harkened back to the Reagan era. Restoring national pride and bringing jobs back to America -- your initial and still underlying message -- is a solid conservative message. In fact, it catapulted you instantly into a commanding lead in the race."
The praise could only last so long before Stone admitted why he was abandoning Trumpworld.
“Unfortunately, the current controversies involving personalities and provocative media fights have reached such a high volume that it has distracted attention from your platform and overwhelmed your core message. With this current direction of the candidacy, I no longer can remain involved in your campaign.”
Stone told Sunshine State News Trump’s campaign was “imploding.”
Trump has been using Twitter to throw rhetorical bombs since Thursday night's FOX presidential debate when he faced a series of tough questions and engaged in an aggressive exchange about women with moderator Megyn Kelly.
On Friday morning he unleashed a nearly two-hour rant. “I really enjoyed the debate tonight even though the @FoxNews trio, especially @megynkelly, was not very good or professional!,” he wrote on Twitter.
He later added, “@FrankLuntz is a low class slob who came to my office looking for consulting work and I had zero interest. Now he picks anti-Trump panels!”
On Fox News, Luntz was the moderator of a focus group of Republican voters after the debate who gave all-negative feedback on Trump. One focus group participant said Trump “just crashed and burned. He was mean, he was angry, he had no specifics, he was bombastic.”
He later told CNN’s Don Lemon Kelly’s questions were “ridiculous” and called Kelly a “lightweight.”
"You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes," Trump said Friday. "Blood coming out of her wherever."
That particular comment led to widespread outrage from GOP primary candidates, many of whom demanded Trump apologize for his disparaging remarks.
Michael Cohen, an adviser for Trump, has said the focus group was “a total setup” aimed at knocking Trump down in the polls, that the network or Republican National Committee may have been part of a "coordinated" effort to slow down Trump's momentum.
"I don't know if it was the RNC, or Fox, or whoever, but it certainly appeared to look like an organized attack," Cohen told Business Insider.
Trump, however, offers a very different take. He told the Washington Post shortly after that Stone didn’t resign, Trump fired him.
Robert Costa of the Washington Post said in a barrage of tweets that Trump called WaPo several times to clarify what happened with Stone.
According to the tweets, Trump said he was cleaning house and running a “serious campaign,” and called the Washington Post over and over again to comment.
“I want to surround myself only with the best and most serious people. We want top of line pros,” Trump told the Post.
Stone’s friends, however, say Stone came to them yesterday to let them know he was washing his hands of the campaign and leaving.
“Roger has been frustrated,” said Austin-based GOP consultant Matt Mackowiak. “Trump had been succeeding … [but] over the past few weeks he's gotten away from his message.”
The Megyn Kelly incident, Mackowiak said, was likely the straw that broke the camel’s back.
“I think he felt like the Megyn Kelly episode took it to a different level,” he explained.
And as far as Trump firing Stone? No way, no how, Mackowiak said.
“No one will ever be able to prove Trump fired Roger,” he told Sunshine State News. “Trump can’t produce that email because it doesn’t exist.”
Mackowiak also slammed Trump for getting rid of people simply when he feels like it.
"Trump's tactics are so transparent," he said. "They may have worked for him with New York media. He's tried to discard anyone at any time if he thinks it's to his own benefit ... that's not how politics work."
Insiders told SSN Stone felt marginalized by Trump aides who egged Trump on in his feud with Kelly. The same aides suggested online polls like Drudge Report showed Trump was performing better in polls as a result of his attacks on the FoxNews personality, something Stone found very troubling since he was already concerned about the campaign’s “lack of scientific polling.”
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Nancy Smith contributed to the reporting of this article.