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Trump Eyes General Election            05/06 07:01

   Just days into his tenure as the presumptive Republican presidential 
nominee, Donald Trump is brushing off a stinging rebuke from the GOP's top 
elected official while vowing to unite a fractured party.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Just days into his tenure as the presumptive Republican 
presidential nominee, Donald Trump is brushing off a stinging rebuke from the 
GOP's top elected official while vowing to unite a fractured party.

   House Speaker Paul Ryan's declaration that he wasn't ready to support Trump 
sent shockwaves through the very Republican establishment the New York 
billionaire is asking for help in transitioning from the primary season into 
the general-election campaign.

   "I'm not there right now," Ryan told CNN on Thursday when asked about 
backing Trump. "And I hope to. And I want to. But I think what is required is 
that we unify this party."

   Even in an election season that has exposed extreme and public divisions 
within the GOP, Ryan's decision to withhold his support from Trump was 
extraordinary. Second in line to the presidency, the House speaker was not 
alone in turning his back.

   Both Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, and former 
President George W. Bush said they do not plan to attend the July national 
convention where Trump will be formally nominated.

   Trump ignored the rebukes during a Thursday night appearance in Charleston, 
West Virginia, addressing Ryan's decision only in a written statement issued 
earlier in the day.

   "Perhaps in the future we can work together and come to an agreement about 
what is best for the American people," Trump wrote. "They have been treated so 
badly for so long that it is about time for politicians to put them first!"

   Trump's advisers have begun conversations with the Republican National 
Committee on coordinating fundraising and tapping into the committee's 
extensive voter data file and nationwide get-out-the-vote operation.

   RNC officials sent a draft of a joint fundraising proposal to the Trump 
campaign on Thursday that details how they would divide donations between the 
campaign, the national committee, the national convention committee and several 
state parties. The agreement, standard practice in modern-day campaigns, is 
expected to be finalized in the coming days.

   Trump on Thursday named a finance chairman, Steven Mnuchin, a private 
investor with ties to New York and Hollywood who has never led a major 
political fundraising team. Many major GOP donors have never heard of him --- 
or even know how to pronounce his name (muh-NOO-chihn). Like his new boss, 
Mnuchin has a record of giving both to Republicans and Democrats, including 
Democrat Hillary Clinton during her 2008 presidential run.

   The cool reception from Romney, Bush and Ryan sends an unmistakable signal 
to their fundraising networks, which include most of the GOP's best-connected 
donors.

   "You might have a lot of these donors sit on the sidelines," said Spencer 
Zwick, who led Romney's fundraising efforts and now serves as Ryan's national 
finance chairman.

   Trump has not yet ruled out accepting public financing for his 
general-election effort. Taking public money would dramatically limit how much 
he can spend this fall.

   The billionaire acknowledges he would have to sell some of his holdings to 
muster the hundreds of millions of dollars for a general-election bid, 
something he says he doesn't necessarily want to do.

   Meanwhile, Ryan is positioning himself to play a central role in helping to 
protect vulnerable House and Senate candidates heading into the general 
election. The speaker has long been working on an "agenda project" that could 
give Republicans something to run on independently from their presidential 
nominee.

   "He's constantly out there talking about his agenda," Zwick said of Ryan, 
adding: "Many people aren't sure what the Trump agenda is yet."

   Trump and Ryan have publicly clashed in the past. Ryan rebuked Trump for 
plans to bar Muslims from the country and when he was slow to disavow former Ku 
Klux Klan leader David Duke. Trump told a crowd in South Carolina in February 
that Ryan doomed the GOP presidential ticket four years ago by saying 
entitlement programs need reform.

   Ryan acknowledged the mogul had "tapped into something in this country that 
was very powerful. And people are sending a message to Washington that we need 
to learn from and listen to."

   "But at the same time, now that we have a presumptive nominee who is going 
to be our standard-bearer, I think it's very important that there's a 
demonstration that our standards will be beared," Ryan said. 


(KA)

 
 
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