US ELECTIONS 2016

Trump makes surprise visit to Republican party boss

Mrs Heidi Cruz, wife of Mr Cruz, with guests at a campaign stop in Wisconsin. Mr Cruz is 10 percentage points ahead of Mr Trump in the state, said a poll released on Wednesday.
Mrs Heidi Cruz, wife of Mr Cruz, with guests at a campaign stop in Wisconsin. Mr Cruz is 10 percentage points ahead of Mr Trump in the state, said a poll released on Wednesday. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Mrs Heidi Cruz, wife of Mr Cruz, with guests at a campaign stop in Wisconsin. Mr Cruz is 10 percentage points ahead of Mr Trump in the state, said a poll released on Wednesday.
Mr Reince Priebus.

His campaign takes new tack to avoid losing votes to rivals in case of brokered convention

WASHINGTON • Mr Donald Trump, the front runner for the Republican presidential nomination, met the chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) in Washington, as tensions run high between the candidate and his party.

Although Mr Trump had previously announced he would be in Washington for meetings, his visit to the RNC on Thursday, where he met its chairman, Mr Reince Priebus, came as a surprise.

It followed an announcement two days ago by Mr Trump that he would refuse to support any candidate but himself as nominee in the race for the White House.

He also announced on Tuesday that he no longer felt bound by the commitment he made in September to respect the outcome of the primaries and not run as an independent in November if he does not receive the party nomination.

That pledge unravelled as Mr Trump's remaining rivals, US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Governor John Kasich, also indicated they were unlikely to observe the pledge if Mr Trump was the nominee.

UNIFYING THE PARTY

We did talk about unity and working together and making sure when we go to Cleveland, and come out of Cleveland, that we're working in the same direction.

MR REINCE PRIEBUS, chairman of the Republican National Committee, on his meeting with Mr Trump.

"I have been treated very unfairly. By basically the RNC, the Republican party, the establishment," Mr Trump said in an interview on CNN aired on Tuesday.

After the meeting, Mr Trump tweeted: "Just had a very nice meeting with @Reince Priebus and the @GOP. Looking forward to bringing the Party together - and it will happen!"

According to Politico, he also held a meeting with his new foreign policy team and rolled out a committee led by two congressmen, who will spearhead attempts to garner support among Washington's political establishment.

"We did talk about unity and working together and making sure when we go to Cleveland, and come out of Cleveland, that we're working in the same direction," Mr Priebus told the Fox News Channel.

A source who attended the foreign policy team meeting said they discussed threats from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, nuclear proliferation, homeland security assessments and European security levels.

If Mr Trump does not win the 1,237 delegates needed to secure his party's nomination outright, the nominee will have to be chosen through delegate voting at the July convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

At that point, delegates would no longer be bound to vote for the candidate they were sent to represent, and Mr Trump could risk losing the nomination. Mr Cruz or Mr Kasich could feasibly become the party's nominee.

The process, which is called a contested or brokered convention, is extremely rare.

To help avoid the chance of a brokered convention, Mr Trump announced on Tuesday that he had hired Republican operative Paul Manafort to manage his delegate strategy.

Mr Manafort has worked on strategy for former US presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush during nominating conventions.

The Trump campaign has been busy trying to dig its way out from under an avalanche of criticism over Mr Trump's comment earlier this week that women who have abortions should be punished if the procedure is outlawed.

Mr Trump pulled back from his initial comments within an hour, first in a statement saying that US states should handle abortion issues, and later saying doctors who perform abortions are the ones who should be held responsible.

Trump spokesman Katrina Pierson told CNN the initial comments were a "simple misspeak".

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2016, with the headline 'Trump makes surprise visit to Republican party boss'. Print Edition | Subscribe