Donald Trump shrugs off snub by more big-name Republicans
Published 07/05/2016 | 01:06
Big-name Republican leaders have lined up against Donald Trump in an extraordinary show of discontent over him winning the party's presidential nomination.
Mr Trump shrugged it off, declaring they did not really matter compared with all the voters who turned out to vote for him in this year's primary elections.
He grudgingly agreed to next week meet Paul Ryan, the Republican House speaker whose statement a day earlier that he was not ready to embrace Mr Trump's nomination set off the fireworks.
Mr Trump said he had "no idea" if they would patch things up but claimed it was not all that important.
"The thing that matters most are the millions of people that have come out to vote for me and give me a landslide victory in almost every state," he said moments after Mr Ryan, the nation's highest-ranking Republican office holder, announced their planned meeting.
Two of Mr Trump's vanquished nomination rivals, former Florida governor Jeb Bush and South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, said they would not vote for him in November, another rejection by party leaders.
Mr Trump said of Mr Ryan's stance: "I figured, routinely, he would be behind me. The other day, he pulled a big surprise."
He said he was not surprised about Mr Bush's stance and was tersely dismissive of Mr Graham.
Of Mr Bush, he said: "I will not say he's low-energy," reprising a jibe he used frequently during the primary campaign. He mocked Mr Graham's poor primary showing, saying: "Like the voters who rejected him, so will I."
Mr Ryan said the meeting will take place next Thursday and Mr Trump will also meet other party leaders. Discussions will centre on "the kind of Republican principles and ideas that can win the support of the American people this November", Mr Ryan said.
The back-and-forth came a day after Mr Ryan injected new uncertainty into the turbulent presidential contest by refusing, for now, to endorse Mr Trump. Aides said that, far from seeking to helm an anti-Trump movement, he hopes to exert a positive influence for the general election campaign after a nominating contest that has alienated women, minorities and other voter groups.
Yet Mr Trump's reaction made it unclear what impact Mr Ryan could have.
"With millions of people coming into the party, obviously I'm saying the right thing," Mr Trump said. "I mean, he talks about unity, but what is this?"
Democrats are generally steering clear of the Republican infighting, letting the party's leaders tear at each other.
However, President Barack Obama did say when questioned about it at the White House: "This is not entertainment. This is not a reality show," and candidates need to show they have the qualities to lead the world's strongest nation.