It’s a tall order, but perhaps Hillary Clinton can assist Donald Trump in unifying the GOP. That’s certainly what Trump himself hopes, even if he’s not interested in unifying all of the party. Trump told Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie on NBC’s Today Show that he could live without some of the people who have been criticizing him for the next eight years:
“I am confident that I can unite much of it. Some of it, I don’t want. There were statements made about me that those people can go away and maybe come back in eight years after we serve two terms,” he told TODAY a day following his crushing victory over his main rival, Ted Cruz, in the Indiana primary.
“Honestly, there are some people I really don’t want. I don’t think it’s necessary. People would be voting for me, they’re not voting for the party,” he said.
We’ll get back to “necessary” in a minute. In the wake of his victory last night, Trump called on Ted Cruz to get out of the race. This morning, he tells Lauer and Guthrie that he was surprised when Cruz ended up withdrawing, but that he looks forward to speaking more with his main rival for the nomination:
“He was a very tough competitor. He fought very hard and it was a tough decision for him to make,” he said. “I think he did the right thing for himself and for the party. But it was a little bit of a surprise for me, yes.”
Trump said the two have not spoken yet by phone, but “I would certainly be expecting to be talking to Ted” soon.
He’ll need to do so, too, if Trump wants to unify the GOP. Cruz ended up with a loyal following, if insufficient to win the nomination, and wooing them into the Trump fold will take some time. A new Morning Consult poll shows the hurdle that Trump will have to clear:
The reality of Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee may be setting in with the GOP establishment, but Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s supporters won’t happily back Trump against presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, according to recent Morning Consult polling.
Sixty-two percent of Cruz supporters say they would support Trump against Clinton, while 13 percent say they would back Clinton. Twenty-five percent of Cruz supporters said they don’t know or had no opinion on whom they’d support in a Clinton and Trump matchup.
In fact, Trump might have an even bigger problem with John Kasich’s supporters, albeit a smaller figure, considering Trump’s favorability rating among each contingent:
This is why dismissing some voters as “unnecessary” might be a mistake at this stage. Right now, it looks like Trump can use every single vote he can possibly get in the general election. It’s no time to be picky.
However, most of this will end up working itself out anyway. Earlier today, I mentioned the PUMAs, the 2008 Hillary Clinton dead-enders who declared, “Party Unity My Ass” and their opposition to Barack Obama. That fizzled shortly after the conventions, and most of the Trump opposition within the GOP will as well. With Cruz out and Kasich a non-factor, the GOP now has six months to unite after a primary victory rather than three-plus months after a contested convention, and that matters.
Interesting side note: Who would have guessed that the first party in this cycle to get to a certainty with its nomination would be the Republicans? NBC’s Peter Alexander marvels at the irony, too: