Donald J. Trump has some advice for panicked Republicans in Washington who are melting down over his most incendiary statements: Man up.
“Politicians are so politically correct anymore, they can’t breathe,”Mr. Trump said in an interview Tuesday afternoon as fellow Republicans forcefully protested his ethnically charged criticism of a federal judge overseeing a lawsuit against the defunct Trump University.
“The people are tired of this political correctness when things are said that are totally fine,” he said during an interlude in a day of exceptional stress in the Trump campaign. “It is out of control. It is gridlock with their mouths.”
Even as he chastised Washington’s political class for a lack of backbone, Mr. Trump exhibited modest signs later on Tuesday that he was getting the message that some remarks — such as questioning the fairness of Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel because of his Mexican heritage — crossed a line.
While he did not apologize, he issued a statement that his comments on Judge Curiel had been “misconstrued.” In a final Republican primary night victory speech, he struck a more conventional tone — at least for him — giving a more disciplined address using the teleprompter he has mocked while promising to make the Republican Party proud in the general election campaign.
But anyone thinking that Mr. Trump is going to suddenly adopt a more cautious, strategic approach yearned for by election-conscious congressional Republicans is likely to be disappointed. He wrinkled his nose in disgust at the mere mention of the word “pivot,” though he conceded he wants to get on to broader discussion of the economy.
In his view, it is clear that his way has worked and the establishment’s has failed. After all, he vanquished every senator, governor or former governor who challenged him for the party’s nomination.
“I disagree with a lot of things I’ve watched in politics over the years, that’s why I’m running,” Mr. Trump said over a meatball lunch he barely touched in the restaurant of Trump Tower. “And that may make me less popular with politicians. But I have to be honest. I didn’t get there by doing it the way a lot of these people do it.”
Mr. Trump, arms crossed tightly across his chest during lunch, was aggrieved and considered some of the Republican pushback inappropriate and unhelpful — though he did not want to address specific critics. He insisted that he is anything but a racist and, with his usual rebuttal by the numbers, stressed that voters have rewarded his outspokenness with a record haul of primary votes while Washington is held in dismal regard.
“People want people to represent them who are going to stick up for what they believe in,” Mr. Trump said. “Politicians have been very weak and very ineffective over the last quite long period of time.”
Mr. Trump is also unhappy with the media, and noted that he is nearing the ability to reach 20 million people by himself through his personal Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts, providing an alternative way to reach the public, even if it’s largely a one-way conversation.
His is a campaign like no other, conducted out of a luxury office tower in Manhattan named for its most prominent occupant, the presumptive nominee himself. A few floors below his personal office with a Trumpian view of Central Park is unfinished space being leased to his campaign team, a relatively skeleton crew of 80 or so running a national campaign.
He is flabbergasted by critiques that he is woefully undermanned compared to the hundreds working for Mrs. Clinton, many just over in Brooklyn.
“To me, that is smart,” Mr. Trump said about his lean team, though he says he will soon increase his work force.
As the primary season came to an odd close with him under Republican fire in the nation’s capital — an unheard-of spectacle in the last half century of presidential politics — Mr. Trump took some time to huddle with his campaign team. His daughter Ivanka, a trusted adviser, was close at hand, as was his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, his press secretary, Hope Hicks, and his special counsel, Michael Cohen.
As he headed to the Trump Grill for lunch, tourists and workers hailed him, congratulated him and urged him on as they lined up to take photos with their phones.
After he was seated, the Secret Service erected a temporary partition to shield him from other guests.
“Look,” he said, amused, “we put up a wall!”
The uneasy relationship he has with Republicans in Washington — not to mention the antipathy for him among Democrats — may have worked for him during the primary campaign. But in the White House, like them or not, he will need them to deliver on whatever agenda he would pursue.
Mr. Trump, who has for years contributed to and glad-handed politicians from around the country, believes he can be successful.
“I think I will get along with the politicians actually,” he said. “We will get the government moving. I’ve done a lot of work on the other side of politics and I’ve always gotten what I want.”
“We will see how it shakes out but I think it is going to shake out very well. I think people are tired of what is going on.”
Even as they express alarm over his tone and positions, Mr. Ryan and Mr. McConnell have yet to abandon Mr. Trump despite pressure from some Republicans to do so. The two congressional leaders say they still share more with Mr. Trump’s ideology than with Mrs. Clinton’s.
So how does it feel to be the lesser of two evils?
“I don’t think I am, for many people,” Mr. Trump said. “Maybe for some politicians.”
Clearly, the real estate merger between Trump Tower and the Capitol is going to take more time.