WASHINGTON – Big-name GOP leaders piled on Friday against Donald Trump in an extraordinary show of Republican-vs.-Republican discontent over his winning the party’s presidential nomination. Trump just shrugged it off, declaring they didn’t really matter when compared to all the voters who turned out to vote for him in this year’s primary elections.
Trump grudgingly agreed to meet next week with Paul Ryan, the Republican House speaker whose statement a day earlier – he said he was not ready to embrace Trump’s nomination – set off the intraparty fireworks. Trump said he had “no idea” if they would patch things up and it wasn’t all that important anyway.
“The thing that matters most are the millions of people that have come out to vote for me and give me a landslide victory in almost every state,” Trump said moments after Ryan, the nation’s highest-ranking Republican officeholder, announced their planned meeting.
Later in the day, two of Trump’s vanquished GOP rivals, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, said they would not vote for him in November. That was a startling rejection by party leaders.
Trump said of Ryan’s stance: “I figured, routinely, he would be behind me. The other day, he pulled a big surprise.”
He said he was not surprised about Bush’s stance and was tersely dismissive of Graham.
Of Bush, he said, “I will not say he’s low-energy,” reprising a jibe he used frequently during the primary campaign. He mocked Graham’s poor primary showing, saying, “Like the voters who rejected him, so will I!”
Ryan said his meeting with Trump would occur Thursday and that Trump also would meet with other House GOP leaders. Discussions will center on “the kind of Republican principles and ideas that can win the support of the American people this November,” Ryan said.
The unlikely back-and-forth came a day after Ryan injected new uncertainty into the turbulent presidential contest by refusing, for now, to endorse Trump.
Yet Trump’s reaction Friday made it unclear what impact Ryan could have.
“With millions of people coming into the party, obviously I’m saying the right thing,” Trump said on Fox News Channel. “I mean, he talks about unity, but what is this?”
Former Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole, who lost to Bill Clinton in 1996, threw his support behind Trump late Friday, while Democrats are generally steering clear of the Republican infighting.
However, President Barack Obama did say when questioned about it at the White House: “This is not entertainment. This is not a reality show,” and candidates need to show they have the qualities to lead the world’s strongest nation.
Hillary Clinton told supporters Friday in Oakland, California, that Trump doesn’t care much for women and immigrants.
Clinton said Trump is the GOP’s “presumptive nominee” as well as its “presumptuous nominee.”
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