Facing mounting opposition to his candidacy and growing calls to steal the nomination from his grasp at the convention in Cleveland, Donald Trump has emerged as his own worst enemy. His inflammatory comments have given leaders flirting with coalescing around him pause while sending nearly every demographic of voter fleeing. And his announcement Tuesday that he no longer stands by his GOP loyalty pledge could imperil his grip on South Carolina’s 50 delegates, and maybe more. It’s not yet certain that the GOP is heading toward a contested convention, but with Ted Cruz holding a large lead in Wisconsin, it’s growing more probable. And Trump will be at a steep disadvantage, that he has only made steeper, as the Establishment prepares to unify against him.
Trump met in Washington Thursday with RNC Chairman Reince Priebus amid a tumultuous week for his campaign. Priebus told Trump that the party intends to be an honest broker, adding that Trump’s delegate frustrations are the result of his campaign’s organizational failures. Trump used the opportunity to once again indicate he is looking to unify the GOP—a challenge that appears to be moving out of reach.
With the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday leaning toward Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton is turning to New York as a bulwark against the insurgent candidate. Clinton’s massive delegate lead means that even narrow Sanders wins are a sort of victory for Clinton, but she is hoping a win in her home state can reverse a month of losses.
The White House condemns Trump’s nuclear comments as Pentagon officers struggle to remain neutral. How Playboy previewed the 2016 election. And John Kasich makes a pitch for Trump voters.
Here are your must-reads:
Trump’s Threat on Pledge Could Cost Him South Carolina Delegates
Breaking commitment to back eventual GOP nominee exposes him in possible contested convention [TIME]
Why So Many States Are Fighting Over LGBT Rights in 2016
TIME’s Katy Steinmetz on why 2016 doesn’t look like 2015
The Pentagon Wants to Stay Out of Elections. Donald Trump Keeps Making That Hard
Military leaders struggle with how to respond to Trump’s proposals [Washington Post]
Trump’s Abortion Reversal Fails to Quell Opposition
Candidate’s inflammatory comments buoy efforts by Republicans to block candidate’s nomination [Wall Street Journal]
“As they’re leaving, I want to say I have earned 9 million votes in this election. I have 1 million more than Donald Trump and I have 2.5 million more votes than Bernie Sanders.” — Hillary Clinton responding to Bernie Sanders-supporting protesters at an event Thursday who claimed she couldn’t win in November
“The entire premise of American foreign policy as it relates to nuclear weapons for the last 70 years has been focused on preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons to additional states. That’s been the position of bipartisan administrations, everybody who has occupied the Oval Office. Frankly, it would be catastrophic were the United States to shift its position.” — Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes on Trump’s position on nuclear non-proliferation
Bits and Bites
Jeb Bush Returns to Giving Paid Speeches [Miami Herald]