First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.
Will Trump be a financial asset for the GOP? Or a liability?
Yesterday, we asked if Donald Trump could unite the Republican Party, and he had mixed results on that front 24 hours after wrapping up the GOP presidential nomination. (Bush 41 and Bush 43 said they would be sitting out the general election – more on that below.) But here’s another challenge for Trump: Can he help his party raise enough money to be competitive up and down the ballot in November? “We are going to try to raise over a $1 billion,” Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt last night, signaling that he won’t dig deep into his wallet to finance he campaign a la Michael Bloomberg. But then he added, “I’m not even sure that’s necessary because I have a big voice. I go on shows like yours.” And that highlights a paradox about Trump: Someone who is so associated with money hasn’t really had to raise it until now while running for political office. (He’s loaned his campaign $36 million, according to FEC filings as of the end of March, and has raised $12.5 million in contributions, although much of that has been from merchandise.) There’s also the wealth factor: Can someone as rich as Trump inspire donors to give him money? Would they think he doesn’t need it? A Republican aide eyeing the downballot races tells First Read that Trump could be an asset in raising money online for the party. But big GOP donors are a question mark, the aide adds. “Some think people will give to Senate now. Or maybe they just sit out.” It’s an important story to watch over the next six months.
Trump stands behind Muslim ban and deportation plan
Also in his interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, Trump said he stood by his proposal to ban Muslim foreigners from entering the United States. “I do. We have to be vigilant. We have to be strong.” He added he wasn’t backing down from his plan to deport all undocumented immigrants living in the country. “They can come back, but yes they’re going to be deported. We have many illegals in the country, and we have to get them out.” And when it comes to Hillary Clinton, Trump told Holt that he would highlight her “bad judgment,” saying: “Bernie Sanders said she’s not qualified to run for president because she has bad judgment.”
What the Bush family sitting out 2016 means for Trump and the GOP
NBC’s Peter Alexander yesterday confirmed that former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush would sit out the rest of the 2016 presidential election. On the one hand, this news is not too surprising after Jeb Bush’s loss, and the Bush family influence was extremely limited during the ‘16 primary season. On the other hand, it’s going to be difficult for Trump to unify the full Republican Party without the Bush family and Mitt Romney locking hands with their 2016 nominee in Cleveland. And you know what they say about divided houses, right? Also get this: NBC’s Sarah Blackwill discovered that a Bush (either Jeb, Laura, W., Bush 41) has had a speaking role at every Republican convention going back to 1980. Does that streak come to an end this year?
Audio of John McCain at fundraiser last month
“This may be [re-election] race of my life” if Trump is at the top of the ticket: Meanwhile, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) is urging Americans to draft a third-party candidate, because he says that neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump is an acceptable choice, per NBC’s Kasie Hunt. And Politico obtained audio of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) – the party’s 2008 presidential nominee – saying at a fundraiser last month that Trump at the top of the GOP ticket could endanger his re-election chances this year. “If Donald Trump is at the top of the ticket, here in Arizona, with over 30 percent of the vote being the Hispanic vote, no doubt that this may be the race of my life.”
Clinton expands her general-election team
In the Democratic contest, Hillary Clinton is expanding her general-election efforts, NBC’s Kristen Welker reports. “In yet another sign Hillary Clinton is looking past rival Bernie Sanders and on to a general election against Donald Trump, the former secretary of state is adding and promoting staff at her national headquarters in New York. A Clinton campaign official said the Democratic frontrunner is not giving up in the remaining primary states, but is increasingly shifting her focus toward beating Trump in November.” By the way, here’s the Democratic delegate math in the primary race:
In pledged delegates, Clinton currently holds a lead of 314 delegates with Washington delegates to still be allocated (it was 321 before last night)
- Clinton 1,679 (55%)
- Sanders 1,365 (45%)
Clinton must win 34% of remaining pledged delegates to get a majority in pledged delegates (was 35%)
Sanders must win 66% of remaining pledged delegates to get a majority in pledged delegates (was 65%)
In overall delegates (pledged + super), Clinton holds an overall lead of 783 delegates (it was 790 before last night)
Clinton must win 17% of remaining delegates to reach 2,383 magic number (was 19%)
Sanders must win 83% of remaining delegates to reach 2,383 magic number (was 81%)
On the trail
Hillary Clinton stumps in California… Bernie Sanders campaigns in West Virginia…And Donald Trump holds a rally in Charleston, WV at 7:00 pm ET.