Donald Trump’s 53% win in the Indiana Primary on Tuesday May 3 sealed the deal. The billionaire businessman’s win in the Hoosier State was followed hours later by the announcement that Texas Senator Ted Cruz who took second place in Indiana with 36.7% of the vote was suspending his presidential campaign because he no longer saw a path to the Republican ticket nomination. Many pundits predicted that Cruz needed to win Indiana to continue his campaign. Still his resignation on the eve of Trump’s victory was a surprise to some. Many thought he would hang in there longer and continue a push for a brokered convention particularly since he recently named his former GOP ticket rival Carly Fiorina as his running mate. Again, this was a desperate move from a candidate to kick start a campaign which was rapidly losing its momentum. Fortunately, Cruz accepted the message from the Indiana voters and graciously exited the race. Worse yet, some pundits thought that Ohio Governor John Kasich would also continue to stay in the race despite the fact that his only primary victory took place in his home state. Like Cruz, Kasich also “did the right thing for the good of the party” and suspended his campaign on Wednesday May 4.
The race for the 2016 GOP ticket nomination which started with seventeen candidates is now down to one, the ever colorful, the ever controversial, Donald Trump. Trump, with 1,053 delegates and his competition eliminated, is on his way to securing the 1237 delegates needed for the Republican nomination. The path has been cleared. All the talk of a brokered convention has quickly dissipated. Reince Priebus the Chairman of the Republican National Committee even tweeted “@realDonaldTrump will be presumptive nominee, we all need to unite and focus on defeating @HillaryClinton #NeverClinton.” Trump, love him or hate him is the people’s choice to go against the presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the general election. While Bernie Sanders is still in the Democratic race and was buoyed again this week by his win in Indiana where he defeated Clinton 52.7% to 47.3%, Clinton who has 2,205 delegates, is within striking distance of sewing up the 2,383 delegates needed for the nomination. Sanders who only has 1,401 delegates continues to insist that he is staying in the race, but it is obvious that his days are numbered.
On Thursday May 5 Trump announced a new National Finance Chair Steven Mnuchin. Mnuchin who spent 17 years with Goldman Sachs, currently heads Dune Capital Management, a private investment firm, has donated to Clinton campaigns in the past. Mnuchin who boasts both Wall Street and Hollywood connections also has George Soros ties. Soros has donated millions of dollars to Clinton superpacs. Mnuchin has been a past donor to other members of both parties including Barack Obama’s 2004 senate run and 2007 presidential campaign. Other Democrat recipients include John Edwards, Chuck Schumer, Al Gore and John Kerry. On the Republican front, Mnuchin has donated to the campaigns of Steve Forbes, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney. In 2012, he made a $20,000 donation to the Republican National Committee.
Trump’s first challenge is to unite the GOP establishment behind him and diffuse the “never Trump” movement with the “never Hillary” message. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has reluctantly communicated that he has made a commitment to support the GOP nominee whoever it is. The speaker of the House Paul Ryan has stated that he is not ready to endorse Donald Trump. The last two Republican presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush will not be helping Trump to pave a path to the White House. A spokesman for George W. Bush said the former president “does not plan to participate in or comment on the presidential campaign.” And a spokesman for Bush 41 said, “At age 91, President Bush is retired from politics.” Trump’s conversation about Vice President Picks is also creating a buzz. Former rival Dr. Ben Carson will reportedly play a key role on the Vice President selection committee. During an interview with CNBC on Thursday May 5, Trump said that there was a 40% chance that he would select one of his former GOP rivals as his running mate. Word on the street is that Trump is willing to consider every former rival with the exception of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.
As for Mrs. Clinton, Trump has already stated that he would rather run against Hillary Clinton than Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders because he views her as easier to defeat since “she has so much baggage.” Trump commented “I’m now watching her fight it out [with Sanders]. She’s going to win again because the system is rigged, [Sanders] cannot win, unless she gets indicted.” Clinton, who is no shrinking violet, has already started tweeting “President Trump is a dangerous proposition. Mitt Romney, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio Agree.”
The battle is ultimately going to come down to numbers, The CNN/ORC poll which took place between April 28-May 1, prior to Trump’s victory in Indiana, shows Clinton leading Trump 54% to 41%, a 13-point lead. Clinton has the advantage over Trump in most of the issues covered by the poll including terrorism (Clinton 50% vs Trump 45%), immigration (Clinton 51% vs. Trump 44%), health care (Clinton 55% vs. Trump 39%), the income gap (Clinton 54% vs. Trump 37%), foreign policy (Clinton 61% vs. Trump 36%), Education (Clinton 61% vs. Trump 34%) and Climate Change (Clinton 63% vs. Trump 30%). The economy was the one strong factor for Trump where 50% vs. 45% of those surveyed thought Trump would be a better steward of the economy than Clinton. Interestingly enough, 49% of those polled see Clinton favorably and an equal number viewer her unfavorably. By contrast, Trump receives only a 41% favorable rating and a 56% unfavorable rating. However, it is important to remember that this poll was taken before Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee. Furthermore, the poll does not reflect the impact of the upcoming head to head contest between Clinton and Trump in both advertising and talk show appearances. The Donald has already stated that he hasn’t even “gotten started” on attacking Hillary. In other words, Email Gate, Benghazi, The Clinton Foundation, White Water etc. are all going to be front and center for the next six months. And of course The Clinton Machine will be in high gear with its own version of the “never Trump” movement.
Suffice to say, the matchup between Clinton and Trump promises to be one of the most exciting presidential races in recent history. Let the fireworks begin!