We need to unite to beat Hillary, Trump tells Republicans

2016-05-05 06:00
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump. (Joe Raedle & Spencer Platt, AFP)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump. (Joe Raedle & Spencer Platt, AFP)

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Washington - Billionaire Donald Trump pledged on Wednesday to unify the fractured Republican Party as he looked beyond the bruising primary season to a November clash for the White House with likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Trump's path to the GOP presidential nomination is now clear after his commanding victory in Indiana's primary on Tuesday pushed his chief opponent Ted Cruz out of the race.

His lone remaining rival John Kasich threw in the towel later on Wednesday, bringing the curtain down on one of the most contentious, chaotic and vicious nomination battles in generations, one in which Trump pummelled no fewer than 16 rivals into submission.

"Now we'll unify the party. We're going to get people together," the 69-year-old Trump told Fox News on Wednesday.

"I think we'll beat Hillary Clinton."

Trump also began discussing the idea of his possible running mate, telling ABC News he wanted "a person with political experience" to compliment his own business acumen.

"I would like to have somebody that could truly be good with respect to dealing with the Senate, dealing with Congress, getting legislation passed."

Clinton ahead in CNN poll

A new CNN poll looking ahead to the next phase of the White House race however found Clinton, hoping at 68 to become America's first female commander-in-chief, leading the billionaire real estate mogul.

The former secretary of state has 54 percent support to 41 percent for Trump, the poll showed - her largest lead since July.

Clinton suffered a shock loss in Indiana to her challenger Bernie Sanders, who has pledged to remain in the race until the end despite an extremely steep hill to climb, with the former first lady far ahead in the all-important delegate race.

"The Clinton campaign thinks this campaign is over. They're wrong," Sanders said in a statement as he vowed to "fight until the last vote is cast."

'We will get destroyed'

Several prominent Republicans were nevertheless refusing to support Trump in November despite his status as the presumptive White House nominee.

Those refusals highlight the continued tensions within the GOP, which has been at a loss to describe the stunning ascent of a brash billionaire who was given no chance of winning when he launched his campaign last June.

"If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed... and we will deserve it," tweeted Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump rival whose campaign fizzled.

Trump expressed optimism he could line up sufficient support in the Republican ranks - although he suggested some wounds were still too raw to heal right away.

"I am confident that I can unite much of it. Some of it I don't want," he told NBC, citing the harsh verbal attacks made by unnamed rivals and party grandees during the primary process.

"Honestly, there are some people I really don't want. I don't think it's necessary."

'She should suffer'

Trump pivoted to his expected showdown with Clinton on November 8.

"Bernie Sanders said that she's got poor judgment. And she does," Trump said on MSNBC, as he poked into the long-running controversy over Clinton's use of a personal email account and private server while she was secretary of state.

"You look at the e-mail scandals, she shouldn't even be allowed to run," he said.

"She should suffer like other people have suffered who have done far less than she has."

'The voters chose another path'

Tuesday's contest in the midwestern Hoosier State was the final firewall thrown up by Republican heavyweights to keep the brash, name-calling Trump from locking up the party's nomination.

But as the race was called overwhelmingly in Trump's favour, Cruz conceded to supporters in Indianapolis that he no longer had a viable path forward.

"We left it all on the field in Indiana," Cruz said as he suspended his campaign.

"We gave it everything we've got, but the voters chose another path."

It was a stunning denouement for the 45-year-old arch-conservative Texas senator, who had insisted he would press on to the final day of the Republican race.

Having amassed 1 053 delegates, Trump was already in a favourable position to reach the magic number needed to avoid a contested party convention in July.

With Cruz and Kasich out of the race, nominee Trump is a foregone conclusion.

"I believe Donald Trump will ultimately get chosen, and he's going to join the party," Republican National Committee chief Reince Priebus said on Wednesday, in an extraordinary embrace of a candidate the party establishment had fought tooth and nail to stop.

"We need to get behind the Republican nominee, and that's what I'm going to try to do for the next several months."

Read more on:    donald trump  |  hillary clinton  |  us

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