presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters
during a campaign rally, at the Rimrock Auto Arena, in
Billings, Mont., Thursday, May 26, 2016.
BISMARCK, N.D. —
Triumphantly armed with a majority of his party's delegates,
Republican Donald Trump unleashed a broadside attack Thursday on
Hillary Clinton's prescriptions for energy, guns, the economy and
international affairs, shifting abruptly toward the general
election with his likely Democratic opponent locked in a divisive
The New York
billionaire shrugged off signs of discord in his party hours after
sewing up the number of delegates needed to clinch the GOP
nomination, a feat that completed an unlikely rise that has
upended the political landscape and set the stage for a bitter
"Here I am
watching Hillary fight, and she can't close the deal," Trump
crowed during an appearance in North Dakota. "We've had
tremendous support from almost everybody."
Trump's good news
was tempered by ongoing internal problems. Those include the
sudden departure of his political director and continuing
resistance by many Republican leaders, including House Speaker
Paul Ryan and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, to declaring their
support for his outsider candidacy.
At the same time,
Clinton faced fresh questions about her use of a private email
server while secretary of state, even as she fought to pivot
toward Trump, who she warned would take the country "backward
on every issue and value we care about."
Department's inspector general released a report a day earlier
concluding that Clinton did not seek legal approval for her
private email server, guaranteeing the issue will continue nagging
her campaign for a second summer. She insisted Thursday that she
had done nothing wrong.
allowed. And the rules have been clarified since I left about the
practice. Having said that, I have said many times, it was a
mistake. And, if I could go back, I would do it differently,"
Clinton said, according to an interview transcript provided by ABC
union workers in Las Vegas, she decried Trump's anti-union
comments and his proposal to deport millions of immigrants who are
in the U.S. illegally. She said he is an "unqualified loose
cannon" who should never be president.
election challenge, Clinton's Democratic rival Bernie Sanders
embraced the possibility of a one-on-one debate with Trump. The
Republican said he'd "love to debate Bernie," but would
want the debate to raise at least $10 million for charity.
with debating Bernie," Trump noted, "he's going to
on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live," kept alive the notion of a
debate, saying that he and Trump have "very different"
views of the world. Sanders said "the goal would be to have
it in some big stadium here in California."
Just 75 delegates
short of her own delegate majority, Clinton remains on a path to
clinch the Democratic presidential nomination, according to an
Associated Press count. But Trump got there first.
The New York
businessman sealed the majority by claiming a small number of the
party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him
at the national convention in July. Among them was Oklahoma GOP
chairwoman Pam Pollard.
"I think he
has touched a part of our electorate that doesn't like where our
country is," Pollard said. "I have no problem supporting
It takes 1,237
delegates to win the Republican nomination. Trump has reached
1,239 and will easily pad his total in primary elections on June
Many on the right
have been slow to warm to Trump, wary of his conservative bona
fides. Others worry about his crass personality and the lewd
comments he's made about women.
Trump said during a
press conference Thursday that he would "absolutely" end
his habit of attacking fellow Republicans now that the nomination
is effectively his. But that truce appeared to be short-lived.
Speaking later at a
rally in Billings, Montana, Trump said 2012 GOP nominee Mitt
Romney, who has refused to endorse him, had "failed so
badly." His campaign also released a celebratory Instagram
video that features a montage of former rivals, including Jeb Bush
and Ted Cruz, saying he would never be the party's nominee.
Still, millions of
grass-roots activists, many of them outsiders to the political
process, have embraced Trump as a plain-speaking populist.
chairman of the Colorado Republican Party and an unbound delegate
who confirmed his support of Trump to the AP, said he likes the
billionaire's background as a businessman.
leadership," House said. "If he can surround himself
with the political talent, I think he will be fine."
pivotal moment comes amid a new sign of internal problems.
clinching the nomination, he announced the departure of political
director Rick Wiley, who was leading the campaign's push to hire
staff in key battleground states. In a statement, Trump's campaign
said Wiley had been hired only until the candidate's organization
"was running full steam."
His hiring about
six weeks ago was seen as a sign that party veterans were
embracing Trump's campaign. The White House contender ignored
questions about internal problems on Thursday and instead took aim
He told a Bismarck
audience that Clinton has "declared war on the American
worker," that she's "going to abolish your right to own
guns," and that she created a foreign policy legacy "of
He said, "The
choice in November is a choice between a Clinton agenda that puts
donors first or an agenda that puts America first: my
Trump also entered
a new phase on the fundraising front. Having bashed donors for
much of the past year, he hosted his first major campaign
fundraiser the night before: a $25,000-per-ticket dinner in Los
At the Billings
rally, Trump offered new specifics on his general election
going to do is I want to focus on 15-or-so states," he said,
that could go "either way."
Among those he
mentioned: the Democratic bastions of California and New York,
which he insists he can put into play.