By Zeke J Miller
May 20, 2016

If you read one thing: Top Republican leaders, operatives, and donors are thinking twice about their #NeverTrump stances after a series of polls showing Republican voters trust Trump over Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Outright opposition to Trump is fading fast, as most Republican insiders prepare to reluctantly get on board the “Trump Train” to avoid being locked out of the party if he wins, and being blamed for his defeat should he fall.

Donald Trump escalated his rhetoric on trade Thursday at a fundraiser for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declaring, “who the hell cares about a trade war” with China. It was just one element of a speech that was peak-Trump, featuring claims that the GOP nominating contest—which he won—was “rigged,” and mocking Christie’s weight. it was an opportunity to pay back Christie for his high-profile endorsement three months ago, which cleared the way for some mainstream Republicans to fall in behind Trump, and according to the presumptive nominee retired all of Christie’s campaign debt. It was also an audition for the role of Trump understudy, as Christie is among those being vetted to be Trump’s running-mate.

In some of her most forceful remarks on Trump yet, Hillary Clinton decried her GOP opponent as “divisive and dangerous” and called him unqualified for the presidency Thursday. Clinton’s comments come as her campaign—and all Democrats—wrestle with how to define Trump to the American people. One wing of the party seeks to brand him a fraud who lacks principles. But Clinton appeared to be aiming for another message, arguing Trump’s unpredictability would lead to instability around the world, while maintaining his policy proposals would harm Americans at home. The debate over how to define Trump is similar to the challenge the party faced in 2012 in defining Mitt Romney, as they vacillated between calling him a “flip-flopper” and conservative ideologue, before realizing the greater electoral advantage in branding Romney as his most conservative self.

A Trump quote from 2006 saying he “hopes” the real estate market collapses just a year before it did is coming back to hurt him, as the opposition research wars heat up. Meanwhile a top Trump aide communicated to D.C. insiders that his boss can change—he just hasn’t yet. And Democrats offer Bernie Sanders a concession, as Clinton declares she has the nomination locked in.

Here are your must-reads:

Must Reads

Donald Trump Returns the Favor for Chris Christie
A veep audition [TIME]

Hillary Clinton: Donald Trump Not Qualified to Be President
Clinton turns up the heat on “dangerous” Trump [CNN]

Donald Trump: ‘Who The Hell Cares About a Trade War?’
Escalates rhetoric in return to campaign trail [TIME]

Republicans Want Their Party to Unify Behind Donald Trump, Poll Shows
But some Republicans say they’ll never get on board the Trump train [New York Times]

DNC to Offer Sanders a Convention Concession
But doubts whether it will be enough [Washington Post]

G.O.P. Donors Shift Focus From Top of Ticket to Senate Races
The Trump effect [New York Times]

Manafort to GOP Aides: Trump’s ‘Behavior Can Be Changed’
The newly empowered chief strategist says Trump can win over Hispanics and be a Reaganesque figure. [Politico]

Sound Off

“I’m going after him exactly on those issues and statements that are divisive and dangerous, and I actually think that’s what the American people want to see.” — Hillary Clinton in an interview with CNN Thursday

“The fact that Hillary thinks the temporary Muslim ban, which she calls the ‘Muslim ban,’ promotes terrorism, proves Bernie Sanders was correct when he said she is not qualified to be President.” — Donald Trump in a statement responding to Clinton

Bits and Bites

Trump Strikes Back at Clinton After Being Called Unfit for Office [TIME]

Donald Trump in 2006: I ‘Sort of Hope’ Real Estate Market Tanks [TIME]

As He Begins Transition Planning, Trump Turns to Unlikely Source: Romney-world [Washington Post]

Hillary Clinton Says There Is ‘No Way’ She Won’t Win Nomination [Wall Street Journal]

Bill Weld, Running as a Libertarian, Likens Donald Trump’s Immigration Plan to Kristallnacht [New York Times]

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