(CNN) — Donald Trump’s bombastic approach and refusal to back off of controversial comments is drawing the ire of many fellow Republicans.
His unyielding popularity in the face of public outrage has political observers baffled and many in the GOP worry that the billionaire presidential candidate’s behavior is hurting the party.
But a bigger concern for Republicans may be what happens if he leaves the party and goes independent.
Trump told The Hill newspaper Wednesday that if the Republican National Committee doesn’t play fair, it increases the chances he’ll mount a third party run.
The RNC asked Trump to cool his heated rhetoric after making comments about undocumented immigrants, saying that “they’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, their rapists and some I assume are good people.”
The Republican committee also chided Trump after he suggested that GOP Senator John McCain, a former prisoner of war, was not a war hero.
But even Trump has acknowledged that a third party run could be disastrous for Republicans, and it’s a point backed up by recent polling.
In a head-to-head matchup, Democrat Hillary Clinton beats Republican Jeb Bush by six percentage points. Add Trump to the race, and Clinton wins by 16.
Republicans fear a repeat of the three-way election of 1992 where some blamed billionaire Ross Perot for costing President George H.W. Bush the White House.
Perot spent $65 million dollars of his own money and Trump is financing his run the same way.
Trump’s disclosure forms show he’s worth at least $1.4 billion and has at least $265 million in debt. The forms’ broad ranges — the top range is anything worth more than $50 million — make it impossible to verify Trump’s claim that he’s worth $10 billion.
Trump’s campaign mocked the forms, saying “this report was not designed for a man of Mr. Trump’s massive wealth.”
Some of his most valuable assets are in real estate: resorts, golf courses, residential and commercial properties. (Ed. note: The Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk is one of his resorts.)
But Trump also makes money on everything from royalties and rents to speaking fees and licensing deals. It’s a lot of money, by any count, and the last thing some Republicans want is Trump throwing that cash into an independent, third party run.