Trump jumps on "El Chapo" escape

Last Updated Jul 13, 2015 7:05 AM EDT

The latest poll puts outspoken billionaire Donald Trump at the top of the GOP presidential pack.

In a survey by The Economist and YouGov, 15 percent of Republican registered voters ranked Trump as their first choice compared with 11 percent for both former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

Trump didn't appear Sunday night at the Miss USA pageant he co-sponsors, which was dropped by NBC because of Trump's divisive comments on immigration.

The pageant aired on the cable channel Reelz instead. And the hosts made no mention of Trump's absence.

He spent the weekend instead on the campaign trail, where he has clearly decided to ignore pleas from Republican leaders to dial back his rhetoric, reports CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes.

In Phoenix, Trump told a campaign rally, "The silent majority is back, and we're going to take the country back!"

Lines like that had an audience of some 5000 in Phoenix cheering.

He drew crowds in Las Vegas, too.

He even weighed in on the escape from a super max prison in Mexico of drug kingpin "El Chapo."

In a statement, Trump warned that El Chapo "is possibly in the U.S. And his drugs and drug dealers freely cross into the United States through our pathetic border."

On Monday morning, he tweeted:

All the adulation has left Trump with little incentive to heed the head of the Republican Party, Reince Priebus, who urged Trump in a phone call last week to tone it down -- but who has been hesitant to chide Trump publicly.

On "Fox News Sunday," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky turned down a chance to criticize Trump, saying, "Look, I'm not going to take the bait."

House Speaker John Boehner mostly steered clear, too, saying, "I don't know whether he's helping or hurting, but uh-- he's a candidate."

Republican strategist Doug Heye says there's a reason Republican leaders are trying to avoid giving trump too much attention. "When you wrestle with the pig, you both get muddy," Heye says. "Not only does it provide more oxygen, it provides a narrative of Trump versus some establishment. Trump versus this person. And it may be a fight that ultimately you can't win, so why get involved in it?"

Besides, it's clear rejection doesn't phase "The Donald," anyway.

"Like when I went on dates," Trump remarked to the crowd in Phoenix. "If a woman dropped me, which happened often, I would always like to say in my own mind that I dropped her."

He's even refusing to rule out a third party run for president if he loses the Republican primary. And that could be the biggest headache of all for GOP leaders. Because if he pulls even five percent of the vote away from the Republican candidate, he makes it that much harder for a Republican to win the White House.