Donald Trump warned Wednesday against trying to award the Republican presidential nomination to another candidate if he heads into the convention with the most accumulated delegates, calling on the party to rally around him or risk riots.
Mr. Trump also issued a warning to people who might be contemplating a third-party challenger to him in the fall.
“A third party will mean an absolute, total victory for the Democrats,” he said on “Fox and Friends.” “It will mean four or five very liberal judges and the country will never be the same. You’ll never recover. That’ll be the end of the country as you know it. That’ll be a disaster.”
Mr. Trump now needs to win about 58 percent of the remaining delegates to secure the 1,237 needed to win the nomination before the July convention in Cleveland, while Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas needs to win about 88 percent, according to an analysis by Frontloading HQ blog, which tracks elections. Ohio Gov. John Kasich has no chance of becoming the party’s nominee before the convention, despite pulling out a win Tuesday in his home state.
“I think we’ll win before getting to the convention, but I can tell you, if we didn’t and if we’re 20 votes short, or if we’re a hundred short and we’re at 1,100 and somebody else is at 500 or 400, [because] we’re way ahead of everybody, I don’t think you can say that we don’t get it automatically,” Mr. Trump said on CNN’s “New Day.”
“I think it would be — I think you’d have riots. I think you’d have riots.”
Mr. Cruz of Texas said that Sen. Marco Rubio’s exit from the GOP presidential race has set up a two-man race between himself and businessman Mr. Trump.
“Only one campaign has beaten Donald Trump over and over and over again — not once, not twice, not three times, but nine times all across the country from Alaska to Maine,” Mr. Cruz said during an election night rally in Houston. “And going forward the choice is straighter. Do you want a candidate who shares your values or a candidate who has spent decades opposing your values?”
Despite the deep concerns about Mr. Trump within the party, there was little tangible action Wednesday that indicated a way to stop the real estate mogul’s march toward the general election.
There was no rush among party leaders or donors to coalesce around Mr. Cruz. A small group of conservatives moved forward with plans to meet Thursday to discuss the prospect of rallying behind a third-party option, but no candidate had been identified to lead that effort.
The three best-financed efforts to stop Mr. Trump abruptly ceased advertising after Tuesday’s elections. The outside groups American Future Fund, Our Principles and Club for Growth have no Trump attack ads planned for Arizona — a crucial winner-take-all contest in six days — or in any states beyond.
Former House Speaker John A. Boehner said current Speaker Paul D. Ryan should be the Republican nominee for president if the party fails to chose a candidate on the first ballot at its national convention this summer in Cleveland.
“If we don’t have a nominee who can win on the first ballot, I’m for none of the above,” Mr. Boehner said at the Future Industry Association conference in Boca Raton, Florida, Politico reported. “They all had a chance to win. None of them won. So I’m for none of the above. I’m for Paul Ryan to be our nominee.”
Mr. Ryan and his staff have maintained that the Wisconsin Republican and 2012 vice presidential candidate will not seek the White House this year.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Ryan said he would not accept a nomination for president.
Henry Barbour, a senior Republican National Committee member who worked on Marco Rubio’s delegate strategy until the Florida senator exited the race Tuesday, said Mr. Trump “doesn’t deserve to be president.” But he said he could ultimately support the billionaire if he “can convince me that he’s presidential material.”
Mr. Trump has won 47 percent of the Republican delegates awarded so far, according to The Associated Press delegate count. He needs to win 54 percent of the remaining delegates to clinch the nomination by the time the primary season ends on June 7.
Just a handful of states will vote between now and mid-April, a reprieve for opponents.
“We’ve got four weeks to identify what the most effective path is,” said Tim Miller, a former Jeb Bush aide who now works for an anti-Trump super PAC.
Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, who is supporting Mr. Kasich, said there were “calls going back and forth between the Kasich-Rubio campaign” about the possibility of a joint ticket, though he said those conversations were preliminary.
⦁ Kellen Howell contributed to this report, which is based in part on Associated Press dispatches.
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