Billionaire Donald Trump set about unifying a fractured Republican party Thursday, fortified by the support of a key party leader as he launches into battle for the White House against likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Late Wednesday the top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, publicly endorsed Trump’s candidacy “to prevent what would be a third term of Barack Obama.”
“As the presumptive nominee, he now has the opportunity and the obligation to unite our party around our goals,” McConnell said in a statement.
Trump’s commanding victory in Indiana’s primary Tuesday pushed remaining challengers Ted Cruz and then Ohio Governor John Kasich out of the race, leaving the real estate tycoon an uncontested path to the nomination.
Their capitulations brought the curtain down on one of the most contentious and chaotic nomination battles in generations, in which Trump pummeled no fewer than 16 rivals into submission.
“Now we’ll unify the party,” Trump, 69, told Fox News Wednesday. “We’re going to get people together.”
But with unfavorability ratings among the highest of any modern presidential candidate, and concern within his own party about his temperament, the real estate mogul swiftly sought to assuage concerns about how he would govern.
“I know people aren’t sure right now what a President Trump will be like,” he told The New York Times.
“But things will be fine. I’m not running for president to make things unstable for the country.”