The most intense nominating fight in generations, featuring the strongest and largest GOP field in history ended at 8:58 p.m. Tuesday as RNC Chairman Reince Priebus declared Donald Trump the party's presumptive nominee. After another rout in Indiana, Trump forced Ted Cruz from the race and with him, the only serious challenge to his nomination. Trump, who had already sensed the end was near and began pivoting toward the general election, is continuing that effort in earnest Wednesday, as his staff begins the search for a running-mate while preparing to rapidly expand their operation for the needs of a general election. Meanwhile, every Republican is facing the choice whether to stand with Trump or to choose another path.
The presumptive status clears the way for the RNC to begin working with Trump on a joint fundraising agreement and convention planning. Despite the 17-person field and the fears of a contested convention, Trump reached the milestone only eight days after Mitt Romney did in 2012. After the convention, Trump will also gain access to federal resources to plan for a potential presidential transition, and later this year will begin receiving classified national security briefings.
Cruz's defeat highlighted the flaws in a strategy he has deployed since he entered the Senate in 2013, betting that ideological rigidity and an outsider perspective would earn him the love of his party. Instead, he left the race as the most hated, with the lowest favorability rating of the three final candidates.
Despite Bernie Sanders' win in Indiana, the Democratic race is functionally over as well, with Hillary Clinton expected to formally clinch the nomination in the coming weeks, but her lead is insurmountable. The general election is set to be a battle for the ages, featuring two historically unpopular nominees with radically different agendas. Mark your calendars: the first Clinton-Trump debate will be on Monday, September 26, at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.
Here are your must-reads:
Why Ted Cruz’s Big Gamble Failed
The limits of conservative absolutism [TIME]
Donald Trump Is ‘Presumptive GOP Nominee’ After Indiana Victory
RNC crowns Trump as Cruz exits [TIME]
Anti-Trump Republicans Confront a Dilemma: Are They Ready to Help Elect Clinton?
Some Republicans are already backing Clinton [Washington Post]
Pressure Mounts on Republican Leaders to Fall in Line Behind Donald Trump
Presidential front-runner had only seen a trickle of support from officials before driving Ted Cruz from race [Wall Street Journal]
Reince Priebus: Republican Party Will Unify Before Cleveland
Party promises not to take a backseat to Trump [TIME]
"Do I want to sell a couple of buildings and self-fund? I don't know that I want to do that necessarily, but I really won't be asking for money for myself, I'll be asking money for the party." — Donald Trump preparing to reverse his stance on accepting outside money in the general election in an interview with MSNBC's Morning Joe
"Our movement will continue and I give you my word that I will continue this fight with all of my strength and all of my ability. You are extraordinary and we will continue to fight next week and next month and next year and together we will continue as long as god grants us the strength to fight on." — Ted Cruz on suspending his campaign, and hinting that he will run again in the future
Bits and Bites
Wilmore Says His 'Tone Didn't Fit Room' in DC Performance [Associated Press]