Trump Secures GOP Nomination
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- With a triumphant pile of delegates in hand, Republican Donald Trump on Thursday claimed support from "almost everybody" in his party and turned his attention to his likely Democratic presidential opponent, Hillary Clinton, who is still locked in a divisive primary contest.
The New York billionaire reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the GOP nomination hours earlier, according to the Associated Press count, just before a North Dakota campaign stop. It completed his unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and set the stage for a bitter fall campaign.
"Here I am watching Hillary fight, and she can't close the deal," he told reporters. "We've had tremendous support from almost everybody."
Trump's good news was tempered by his own continuing campaign problems. Those include the abrupt departure of his political director and continuing resistance by many Republican leaders to declare their support for his upstart candidacy.
Trump was put over the top in the AP delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the national convention in July. Among them was 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. Trump has reached 1,239. Of those, 95 are unbound delegates who have endorsed him.
With 303 delegates at stake in five state primaries on June 7, Trump will easily pad his total, avoiding a contested convention in Cleveland.
Steve House, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party and an unbound delegate who confirmed his support of Trump to the AP, said he likes the billionaire's background as a businessman.
"Leadership is leadership," House said. "If he can surround himself with the political talent, I think he will be fine."
Some delegates who confirmed their decisions to back Trump were tepid at best.
Cameron Linton of Pittsburgh said he will back Trump on the first ballot since he won the presidential primary vote in Linton's congressional district.
"If there's a second ballot I won't vote for Donald Trump," Linton said. "He's ridiculous. There's no other way to say it."