Ex-NY mayor Giuliani gives backing boost as Trump signs up political guru to run campaign
Donald Trump, the Republican presidential front-runner, received a boost yesterday from Rudy Giuliani, the former Mayor of New York. The billionaire businessman, who suffered a damaging defeat in the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday, was in need of a lift ahead of the upcoming New York primary.
Mr Giuliani, who was universally praised for his handling of the 9/11 terror attacks, said he planned to vote for his "friend" Mr Trump in the primary.
The Republican criticised Mr Trump's rival, Ted Cruz, who had mocked "New York values" during a presidential debate in January.
"It's New York City. We're family. I can make fun of New York, but you can't," he told the 'New York Post'.
"I support Trump. I'm gonna vote for Trump."
Mr Giuliani said he expected Mr Trump to collect most of the 95 delegates up for grabs in New York on April 19 and have a "good shot" at securing the party nomination, averting the possibility of a contested convention in July.
On Wednesday night, Mr Trump returned home from the chill political winds of the Mid-West to a rousing rally of 10,000 supporters in New York.
"I've got this guy standing over there looking at me, talking about 'New York values' with hatred," he said. "So, folks, I think you can forget about him. Forget about him. He is Lyin' Ted."
However, it was not all good news for the front-runner on Thursday, as a new poll by Associated Press-GfK found that seven in 10 of all Americans had an unfavourable impression of him.
Mr Trump said yesterday that he planned to hire additional staff to prepare for the possibility of a long fight for the Republican nomination.
He announced that he has assigned all functions related to the nomination process to veteran political operative Paul Manafort, who was hired to manage the process of corralling delegates who will pick the nominee.
"The nomination process has reached a point that requires someone familiar with the complexities involved in the final stages," Mr Trump said.
Last night Mr Manafort said that Mr Trump would amass the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch his party's nomination well before the Republican National Convention in July.
A veteran campaign tactician, Mr Manafort was chosen by Trump on Thursday to oversee a fractious nomination process that many Republicans expect may not yield a clear winner before the convention.
Mr Manafort said on CNN's 'New Day' programme that Mr Cruz will not be able to dent Mr Trump's delegate lead before California's primary on June 7: "The reality is Ted Cruz has seen his best day," he said.
"The reality is this convention process will be over with sometime in June, probably June 7, and it'll be apparent to the world that Trump is over that 1,237 number," he added.
Mr Trump has been uncharacteristically quiet on social media after his double-digit loss to Mr Cruz in the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday, which followed a series of missteps on the campaign trail, including his statement, later recanted, advocating punishment for women who have illegal abortions.
In elevating Mr Manafort, Mr Trump said he would add more staff before the convention in an expansion of his campaign team beyond the close-knit group of advisers who have been at his side since he jumped into the presidential race last June.
"People that I know that want to get involved and wanted to before didn't have a way in," Mr Manafort said.
The next presidential nominating contests before the November 8 election include a number in East Coast states, which are seen as more fertile ground for the real estate tycoon, including the primary in his native New York on April 19.
Mr Manafort cited Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland as states where Trump would do well. "By the time we get to California, the momentum is going to be very clear and Ted Cruz's path to victory is going to be in [a] shambles," he said.
Mr Cruz, appearing on the CNN programme earlier, said he had a clear path to 1,237 delegates.