Saturday, April 23, 2016

reince priebus calls on gop to back nominee, even if it's you-know-who

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  1. Reince Priebus Calls on G.O.P. to Back Nominee, ...
    18 hours ago ... Reince Priebus Calls on G.O.P. to Back Nominee, Even if It's You-Know-Who. By JONATHAN MARTIN APRIL 22, 2016. Continue reading the ...
    Reince Priebus after his remarks at the Republican National Committee’s spring meeting in Hollywood, Fla., on Friday. Credit Joe Skipper/Reuters
    HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — The head of the Republican National Committee implored leaders of his sharply divided party on Friday to rally behind their eventual presidential nominee, suggesting that they ignore Donald J. Trump’s assault on the nominating process.
    Reince Priebus, the committee’s chairman, did not mention Mr. Trump by name when addressing the group’s members at the party’s spring meeting here, but he devoted much of his speech to the tensions created by the Republican front-runner.
    “Now I know our candidates are going to say some things to attract attention,” Mr. Priebus said, in a barely veiled reference to Mr. Trump’s attacks on what he has called “a rigged” and “corrupt” nominating process.
    “That’s part of politics,” Mr. Priebus said. “But we all need to get behind the nominee.”
    Mr. Trump is not the nominee yet, but his considerable advantage in delegates and lead in overall votes has prompted some mainstream Republicans to come to terms with the likelihood that he is the favorite, however unthinkable it may once have been, to become their standard-bearer this fall.
    Yet the lingering split between those Republicans willing to accept Mr. Trump, however reluctantly, and those ferociously opposed to his nomination was on vivid display at the beachside resort where the party gathered.
    While Mr. Priebus was speaking to state chairmen and chairwomen and committee members in a second-floor ballroom, officials from the best-funded anti-Trump group were briefing reporters a floor below about its efforts to deny Mr. Trump delegates in the remaining contests and keep him from clinching a majority before the party’s convention in Cleveland in July.
    More to the point, Katie Packer, the chairwoman of the group, Our Principles PAC, rejected Mr. Priebus’s implicit suggestion that Mr. Trump was worthy of carrying the party’s banner.


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    “We’re selling our soul as a party for what?” asked Ms. Packer, arguing that nominating Mr. Trump could imperil Republican control of Congress. “To lose our majorities for a generation?”
    Ms. Packer added, “I think it’s very clear he doesn’t live up to our standards as a party.”
    To drive that point home, she came to the meeting with reporters brandishing the group’s latest mailing: a pamphlet featuring an image of a buxom blonde, a pug and a pig that read: “Bimbo. Dog. Fat Pig. This is how Donald Trump publicly refers to women.”
    Whether the shock value of such language still has any resonance this deep into the nominating fight is an open question, however. Mr. Trump’s commanding victory in New York this week and his expected successes in a series of mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states this Tuesday has put a damper on the effort to stop him.
    It has also stoked concern among some that, if Mr. Trump falls just short of a delegate majority but comes close, the small universe of unbound delegates, wanting to end the party’s long and ugly nomination fight, will come his way to hand him the nomination on the first ballot.
    Some of these political free agents were at the party meeting, and Our Principles PAC distributed a three-and-a-half page memo to them and the rest of the committee members, who are all delegates, making the case against Mr. Trump and arguing that it was not too late to stop him.
    “We believe they’ll follow their heart before they follow the herd and the pressure,” Ms. Packer said, adding that Mr. Priebus should not “make the decision, ‘Well, he got close, so we’re going to go ahead and give him the touchdown.’ ”
    But the party chairman, while pleading with Republicans to “rally around whoever becomes our nominee,” made clear in his remarks that the R.N.C. would be steadfast in not getting behind a candidate until they receive the needed 1,237 delegates.

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    “We aren’t going to hand the nomination to anyone with a plurality, no matter how close they are to 1,237,” Mr. Priebus said. “You need a majority. ‘Almost’ only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.”
    Trying to put the best face on a campaign that some Republicans say has been disastrous for the party, Mr. Priebus invoked Abraham Lincoln to note that Lincoln’s intraparty opponents in the election of 1860 joined his administration. “They didn’t just take their marbles and go home,” he said.
    But while some of Mr. Trump’s rivals for the nomination may endorse him, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, should he become the nominee, many in the party most likely will not.
    Many of the party’s strategists and staff members, as well as some its elected officials, have said publicly that they will not support Mr. Trump if he wins the nomination. And it was difficult to stroll through the lobby here without encountering Republicans who said privately that they were unlikely to vote for the candidate most likely to be their nominee.
    Some, but not all, of these feelings could subside should Republicans be faced with a choice between Mr. Trump and Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner.
    But for now many of the committee members to whom Mr. Priebus was preaching unity remain uneasy with a candidate who is waging war against the party and its nominating process.
    “The proof will be in the pudding in the next couple of weeks,” said Matt Moore, the South Carolina Republican chairman, after meeting with Mr. Trump’s top campaign officials, who offered assurances that the candidate is not running against the R.N.C.
    “Thus far, Trump is attacking the party and Reince often,” Mr. Moore said, “and I’d like to see that significantly decrease.”

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