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Donald Trump becomes 'official Republican presidential nominee'

The billionaire has been unopposed since his final two rivals dropped out of the contest in early May

David Usborne
Thursday 26 May 2016 15:20 BST
Donald Trump signing autographs for supporters in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Donald Trump signing autographs for supporters in Albuquerque, New Mexico (Reuters)

Donald Trump has officially done it, quietly moving past the magic number of delegates needed to ensure he is crowned Republican nominee for the White House in 2016.

According to the delegate count kept by the Associated Press, Mr Trump, the brash New York billionaire who has been unopposed since his last two rivals dropped out of the contest in early May, made it to the vaunted 1,237 threshold – and just beyond – on Thursday.

The passing of the milestone should finally dispose of any lingering sense of disbelief about the political potency of the world’s most boastful property baron and reality television entrepreneur.

It was a moment as profoundly significant – for him, for his party and possibly for the world – as it was oddly anticlimactic. For all the intense drama that had come before it, the announcement that he had finally made it was essentially little more than an electoral accounting update.

There wasn’t even some thundering primary win to push him over the top. The most recent was in Washington state on Tuesday which gave him 40 new delegates, taking him to within a whisper of the required tally. What did it, AP said, was a few so-called unbound delegates reporting their decisions to swing behind him.

The storming of the Republican bastion by Mr Trump was predicted by few. When he declared in the gold and marble confines of Trump Tower last June and uttered his now famous smears about Mexican migrants, he was widely dismissed as a noisy, impossibly offensive, freak show.

Then as he began gradually to barge his rivals from the road one by one – Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie were among his earliest victims – and it was down essentially to him and Senator Ted Cruz (with straggler John Kasich declining to give up) the conversation changed.

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Who could stop him now and how?

That was then, when everything rested on Mr Trump winning the two big states at the very end of the primary marathon, California and New Jersey, both set to vote on 7 June. The anti-Trump movement had one last hope: that he would arrive at the party convention in Cleveland in July just shy of the number of delegates he needed to clinch the crown.

Barring some dramatic rebellion or boycott by delegates still unnerved by the notion of a former reality star taking their party’s helm – and some are still agitating for exactly that – there will be no contested convention. Mr Trump will run the show. And a show it promises to be.

If anything, it is the Democrat convention in Philadelphia that now has the potential to erupt into chaos with supporters of Bernie Sanders of Hillary Clinton potentially clashing.

Speaking in North Dakota, Mr Trump derided Ms Clinton, his most likely general election rival, for her failure to conclusively sew up the Democratic nomination. “A lot of people said [the Republican nomination race] wouldn’t be solved at the convention, and here I am watching Hillary fight, and she can’t close the deal,” Mr Trump said.

The property mogul also predicted that his GOP critics would soon fall in line behind his candidacy, including Susana Martinez, the Latina Republican governor of New Mexico, whom he criticised at a rally earlier this week, and who has so far declined to endorse him. “I imagine she’ll come over to my side,” he said.

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