What establishment Republicans and plenty of political pundits thought unimaginable happened last night as Donald Trump effectively became the GOP presidential leader. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a Twitter post following the results of the Indiana primary that Republicans need to support Trump to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton this fall. Trump defeated Sen. Ted Cruz yesterday with over 50% of the vote. He stands a good chance of collecting all 57 delegates available in Indiana.
Surprising his supporters, Cruz suspended his bid for the presidency. At a rally in Indiana, Cruz told supporters that the road forward was apparently “foreclosed.” He did not mention Trump during the speech, where he was joined by his parents, wife and children. Cruz did have plenty to say about Trump earlier in the day, calling the New Yorker a “pathological liar,” “utterly immoral,” and “serial adulterer.”
For his part, Trump gave as good as he got from Cruz, who had regularly dubbed “Lyin’ Ted.” In an interview with the Fox network’s “Fox & Friends” that morning, Trump invoked a National Enquirer article that included a photograph he charged was Cruz's father, Rafael Cruz, standing with Lee Harvey Oswald in New Orleans near the date of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
But after the primary had ended and Cruz had suspended campaigning, Trump proved to be more amenable. "Ted Cruz, I don't know if he likes me or doesn't like me, but he is one hell of a competitor," Trump said. "He is a tough, smart guy and he has got an amazing future..I want to congratulate Ted," Trump said. Trump also praised RNC Chair Priebus, saying: "It's not an easy job when he had 17 egos [former GOP presidential candidates] and now I guess he's down to one." Jokingly, he said "I don't know, is there a second? I don't know."
Today on "Good Morning America," Trump hinted at his choice of a running mate. His veep choice, he said, will "most likely" be an elected official and “definitely” be a Republican. He refused to apologize for citing the unsubstantiated report about Rafael Cruz and assassin Oswald. "I don't think anybody denied it," he told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos.
Polls show that among Republican voters, Trump's favorable ratings improved in April. The Gallup polling organization showed that his net favorable ratings at 24 percent, with 59 percent of Republicans viewing him favorably (Cruz had a net negative favorability of 6 percent -- "the worst in Gallup's history of tracking the Texas senator.").
However, Gallup found that Republican women account for Trump's net negative favorability ratings of 70 percent among all women. Its polls showed that 46 percent of GOP women view him unfavorably compared to 36 percent of GOP men. Men overall give Trump a 58 percent unfavorable rating.
Some conservatives suggested that they would rather vote for Hillary Clinton than support Trump this fall. For example, Dennis Prager of the prestigious National Review magazine called the choice between Trump and Clinton “political version of Sophie’s Choice.” Others chimed in. For example, “For the first time since turning 18, I will not vote for the Republican candidate for President,” The Federalist’s Dan McLaughlin said. And Rick Wilson dedicated his column to stopping Trump: “…We need to make clear that resisting Trump isn’t because we love Clinton,” he said, “[but] when the frontrunner of the GOP is worse than Her Majesty, it’s time for Never Trump.” Rick Klein of the Washington Examiner posted a photograph on social media of his burning voter registration card. Sen. Lindsey Graham, who suspended his own presidential campaign earlier this year, posted on Twitter: “If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed….and we will deserve it.”
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