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
"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
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
"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.