PALM BEACH, Fla. — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump confidently pitched toward the general election Tuesday evening after a string of early “Super Tuesday” victories seem poised to bolster his delegate lead in the GOP nomination.
“I could win nine states tonight. If I’m going to win all these states with tremendous numbers...I think we're a democracy. I think it’s awfully hard to say, ‘That's not the person we want to lead the party,’” Trump said.
“This isn’t like it’s a close match,” Trump added later.
Trump commended primary rival Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) on his home state victory but tore into Sen. Marco Rubio, who he said was the "big loser" of the night. He mocked Rubio for failing to win any Super Tuesday states, saying that he believes the Florida senator’s decision to attack him in unusually personal terms during the last week ultimately hurt him. He likened Rubio to comedian Don Rickles — but added that “Don Rickles has a lot more talent.”
"He has a right to be nasty, he hasn’t won anything and he’s not going to win much," Trump said.
But Trump focused most of his fire on Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, whose impressive sweep of victories Tuesday has firmly restored her status as her party's presumptive nominee.
“Once we get all of this finished, I’m going to go after one person: Hillary Clinton. And I think that’s frankly going to be an easy race,” Trump said.
As he spoke, Trump was cheered on by his top staffers, one of his sons, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and dozens of close friends dressed in their Palm Beach finery. He answered questions for about 30 minutes, mostly calling on television reporters and becoming agitated when he was asked a second time about the Ku Klux Klan.
The real estate mogul was intent on branding himself as a candidate capable of unifying the Republican Party, even as members of the party’s establishment wing remain fearful that Trump will succeed in becoming the Republican nominee. He has regularly made the case that he is capable of bringing various political parties together to negotiate on behalf of the American people, a claim that will likely become more prominent if he becomes the party's nominee and retools his strategy for a general election.
But Trump said that he has already proven he is capable of expanding the party beyond its current base. The billionaire has regularly said on the trail in recent days that he believes he can beat Clinton in states such as New York and Michigan.
“I am a unifier. I would love to the see the Republican Party and everybody get together and unify. And when we unify, there’s nobody, nobody that’s going to beat us,” Trump said.