It’s as official as it gets before the convention, anyway. According to two separate counts of Republican delegates, Donald Trump has crossed the finish line for a majority of delegates, albeit with some help with pledges from unbound delegates. Both NPR and the Associated Press have declared Trump the nominee (via Jeff Dunetz):
— NPR Politics (@nprpolitics) May 26, 2016
Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign.
Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party’s unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention. Among them is Oklahoma GOP chairwoman Pam Pollard.
“I think he has touched a part of our electorate that doesn’t like where our country is,” Pollard said. “I have no problem supporting Mr. Trump.”
It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination for president. Trump has reached 1,238. With 303 delegates at stake in five state primaries on June 7, Trump will easily pad his total, avoiding a contested convention in Cleveland in July.
All this does is expedite the inevitable. The five states coming up in less than two weeks includes New Jersey and California, two states where Trump would have done well even if still facing active opponents in the race. Since Ted Cruz and John Kasich have “suspended” their presidential campaigns, Trump was a cinch to win most of those 303 delegates, if not all of them. He’ll roll into Cleveland with close to 1500 delegates if not more, and any grand schemes to pull a fast one on the floor of the convention to deny Trump the nomination will quickly evaporate, if they haven’t already been discarded by the bitter-enders.
Trump’s had this locked up since Cruz lost Indiana and retired. The only internal opposition he has faced comes from conservative thought leaders who declare — at this point, anyway — that they cannot get behind Trump’s campaign. When the reality of Hillary Clinton gets more clear, that will likely change, and Trump has seen his support coalesce on the Right in polls for the last couple of weeks. At this point, one would expect Trump to focus his guns outward, but as Rebecca Sinderbrand points out at the Washington Post, Trump still seems engaged in a purity campaign of his own:
Over the past 24 hours alone, Trump has taken public shots at:
—New Mexico governor (and chair of the Republican Governors Association) Susana Martinez last night, while at a rally in her home state. “She’s got to do a better job. Okay? Your governor has got to do a better job. She’s not doing the job. Hey! Maybe I’ll run for governor of New Mexico. I’ll get this place going. She’s not doing the job. We’ve got to get her moving. Come on: Let’s go, governor.”
—South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, today, over her decision to endorse Marco Rubio’s presidential bid.
—Jeb Bush, today, for his energy level (again, some more.)
—Mitt Romney: “Poor Mitt Romney. Poor Mitt….I mean, I have a store that’s worth more money than he is” he said today. “He choked like a dog…Once a choker, always a choker.” He also called Romney “stupid” and joked that he “walked like a penguin” on stage.
Even the man most often mentioned as a running mate for Trump thinks that the nominee sometimes “goes off the deep end.” If Trump wants to unite the party and have a chance to compete in the fall, Gingrich told Sean Hannity last night that he needs “a higher level of discipline,” or else the GOP will be looking at another 1964 rather than a 1968:
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich warned Wednesday that presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s attack Tuesday on New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez was “very, very destructive” and an example of him going “off the deep end.”
Gingrich is a supporter of Trump and has even been floated as a potential vice presidential running mate for billionaire businessman. But Gingrich told Fox News Channel’s Eric Bolling, guest hosting on “Hannity,” that the attack was a mistake.
“You don’t want to see a Republican presidential candidate attacking a Republican governor, and you particularly don’t want to see a candidate who needs to get stronger with Latinos and stronger with women attack a Latina woman Republican governor,” he said. …
Though Trump has brilliantly “come out of nowhere” to capture the GOP nomination, “Every once in a while he goes off the deep end,” Gingrich said. “He has to acquire a higher level of discipline or he’s going to be like Barry Goldwater.”
Indeed. Perhaps Gingrich should give Trump a call and let him know that he’s already the nominee, and that Hillary Clinton should be his target.