The presumptive GOP nominee. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

True story: Just 24 hours ago, there were three Republicans actively running for president. Tonight, there is only one. "Donald Trump assumed control of the Republican Party on Wednesday as its presumptive presidential nominee, shifting quickly into general election mode," reported Philip Rucker, Robert Costa, and Jose DelReal

"With Kasich and Cruz out, Trump and his advisers began making decisions about the general election. Though he has repeatedly touted his ability to self-finance his campaign, Trump said that he would seek donations going forward, especially small-dollar contributions from grass-roots supporters.

"Trump acknowledged that he would have to liquidate some of his real estate holdings to muster the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to self-fund a credible fall campaign. 'I mean, do I want to sell a couple of buildings and self-fund? I don’t know that I want to do that necessarily,' Trump said on MSNBC.

"So far, Trump has given or loaned his campaign more than $36 million and accepted an additional $12 million in donations.

"Trump said in an interview with The Washington Post that he would enter a joint fundraising agreement with the Republican National Committee and has scheduled a meeting Thursday with advisers to finalize the deal." Trump also said Ben Carson will play a leading role on his VP search committee, launching soon.

Indiana. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Yes, the primary season is over. But so far, it looks like primary season baggage won't be going anywhere anytime soon. "Party leaders are scrambling to stave off a parade of prominent Republicans endorsing Clinton, but already there were notable defections. The two living Republican past presidents, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, have no plans to endorse Trump, according to their spokesmen.

"In the swing state of Nevada, Gov. Brian Sandoval, a moderate Republican and rising Latino star, said he plans to vote for Trump despite their disagreements on some issues. But Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) said that 'I vehemently oppose our nominee' because he disparaged women, Hispanics and veterans — although Heller insisted he would not vote for Clinton.

"Democrats rushed to exploit the moment. The Clinton campaign released a brutal video mash-up of Republican rivals condemning his character and fitness for office, while the former secretary of state called him 'a loose cannon' and invited Republicans and independents seeking an alternative to Trump to join her."

There's more where that came from:

(There's more where that came from.)


Late yesterday, John Kasich's presidential campaign manager vowed the Ohio governor wasn't going anywhere. "The future of the Republican Party and America is at stake. Gov. Kasich will not simply give up," John Weaver said in a memo. Today, John Kasich gave up.

John Kasich had several D.C. events planned over the next few days, including two press conferences — but reportedly had a change of heart earlier today while standing in the airport, getting ready to board the flight east.

His exit message late this afternoon, less than a day after Ted Cruz's good-bye: "God will show me the way forward." (On a related note Trump said today Kasich was "rising rapidly" on his VP shortlist.)

"The high point of Kasich’s campaign came on March 15, when he won the Ohio primary," note the Davids Fahrenthold and Weigel, reporting with Philip Rucker. "He was showered in confetti and promised to return to Ohio this fall as the GOP nominee.

"'I’m getting ready to rent a covered wagon,' he said then. 'We’re going to have a big sail and have the wind blow us to the Rocky Mountains and over the mountains to California.'

"It was an odd metaphor but an apt one. After Ohio, Kasich performed about as well as somebody trying to cross the Rockies in a sail-powered wagon."

The way we were: Godspeed, John Kasich.

The news that the primary season had officially ended seemed to send the Republican Party — which, a few days ago, seemed to have (mostly) finally reached Stage 5 on the Kubler-Ross Grief Model — cycling through each stage all over again. Simultaneously. 

There was (fading) denial.



A GOP staffer emailed a link to the Vine below minutes after it was posted by liberal group American Bridge (a callback to RNC chair Reince Priebus's assessment of his feelings about the 2016 campaign, which involved Bailey's and breakfast cereal) — along with a note: "I'll have what he's having"

There was also bargaining.

And acceptance.

Still, many prominent conservatives could be found in the heretofore unlabeled Stage 6: Resistance.

#NeverTrump leaders were looking ahead:

By the way, the answer to that question is: "Technically"! But....

Also ready to move on: the RNC.

Then again, virtually every conservative who responded to that message this afternoon...was not.

(Party healing status: Work in progress)


. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Bernie Sanders won the battle for Indiana. He's still losing the war.

"It may not matter what Sen. Bernie Sanders meant this week when he promised to push for a 'contested' convention this summer," note Ed O'Keefe and John Wagner. 'Even with his victory in the Indiana primary Tuesday, it remains all but impossible for him to win the nomination."

The Vermont senator remains, at least for the moment, all-in on a superdelegate-focused strategy. But now that his only path to the top of the ticket is convincing party bigwigs to veto the preference of a decisive majority of primary voters, delegates and states, Sanders is discovering the drawbacks to that approach.

One obvious hurdle is that, all things being equal, voters themselves — including many Sanders supporters — are not thrilled with any approach that involves ignoring the electorate. Another is the fact that party insiders seem be reluctant to take what could otherwise be an unexpectedly good 2016 for some down-ballot Democrats, pour lighter fluid on it, and set it on fire.

And then there's this: "Sanders 'has a right to contest every single primary on the calendar' just as Clinton did against then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2008," said staunch Clinton supporter and superdelegate Ed Rendell. But Rendell says he "is still upset by the senator’s suggestion at the start of the primary season that superdelegates would play a minimal role in the nomination process. In the months since, Rendell said that Sanders supporters have targeted superdelegates with 'vile emails and threatening emails.'

"'You can’t trash us in February and then come back and tell us how much you love us in May or June or July,' he said. 'Remember, Bernie’s spent two months beating the hell out of superdelegates. We remember that. We remember how unworthy we were in February.'"

Other superdelegates said Sanders should go ahead with his pitch, though with a few asterisks: "'If Sen. Sanders is close or is actually leading by the time we get to the convention, I think he definitely has a case to make that in at least the states that he won, those superdelegates should be backing his campaign,' said Troy Jackson, the former state senate majority leader in Maine."

Since there is a vanishingly small chance Sanders will be leading by Philadelphia, and a very good chance he may no longer be close, that would render the quest irrelevant — if the goal were the Democratic nomination, and not an attempt to maximize influence over the party platform. Either way: the Republican fight is over. The Democratic faceoff isn't.


TRAIL MIX: The Rolling Stones — who hadn't been thrilled with Trump's (licensed) use of their music at his campaign rallies — are now officially asking him to stop using it. Which songs has he been using? Many, many of them. Including — in which may be an unprecedented trail playlist pick for a candidate — "Sympathy for the Devil." (As in: "Please allow me to introduce myself — I'm a man of wealth and taste...")

—The other GOP establishment conversation right now is about Ted Cruz 2020.

—There are really two Democratic parties, says Philip Bump. (Only one of them awards a presidential nomination.)

—With Trump at the top of the Republican ticket, RedState reverses course: Conservative senators should make sure Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland is confirmed after all. Immediately, if not sooner.

YOUR DAILY TRAIL PIT STOP: Speaking of tough GOP nomination fights: "Honeyfugler."

Correction: An excerpt of this story included in the Daily Trail originally said incorrectly that Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) was up for re-election this year. He will actually be up for re-election in 2018.