OMAHA, Nebraska » Donald Trump seems more interested in running up the score than projecting unity.
The billionaire mogul today urged his Nebraska supporters to help him break the record for most votes in a Republican primary by turning out to vote Tuesday, but made little mention of uniting the party behind him now that he’s his party’s presumptive presidential nominee.
“We have to go on Tuesday and vote because we’re looking to break the all-time record,” Trump said as he kicked off a rally in a private air hangar near the Omaha airport. “We want to create such a record like they haven’t had before.”
The request marked a change from Thursday night, when Trump told supporters in West Virginia to not bother casting primary ballots and to wait until the general election in November because he’d already effectively won the GOP presidential nomination.
Nebraska and West Virginia both hold their primaries May 10.
Trump and has been working behind the scenes to try to unite a fractured party behind his candidacy. But you never would have known it from the rally.
Instead of offering a look ahead, Trump spent 30 minutes talking about contests he’d already won, ticking them off one after the other. He also lashed out at two former Republican rivals, complaining about South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham’s renewed criticisms and slamming former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has been out of the race months. Both said Friday they won’t vote for Trump.
It took Trump almost 20 minutes into his speech to mention Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner. And during the 40-minute speech, he only mentioned her twice.
Trump is facing deep resistance from some wings of his party, including from House Speaker Paul Ryan, who says he’s not yet ready to support Trump.
When Trump mentioned Ryan, boos echoed throughout the private air hangar.
“Paul Ryan? I don’t know what happened. He called me two, three weeks ago. It was a very nice conversation,” Trump said. “I figured — routinely — he’d be behind it. And the other day he just did a big surprise.”
The slight comes as Trump’s team is working frantically to pivot to a general election. Trump’s advisers have begun conversations with the Republican National Committee on coordinating fundraising and tapping the committee’s extensive voter data file and nationwide get-out-the-vote operation.
Trump has also said he intends to begin fundraising for the party and the general election and appears to be moving forward with those plans. News emerged Friday that Trump will be holding a fundraiser later this month to help New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie pay off his own presidential campaign’s debt and to raise money for that state’s Republican Party.
According to an emailed invitation, Trump will appear with Christie at what is being billed as a “New Jersey rally” in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, on May 19.
The price of attendance is listed as $200 per person, according to an invitation, which says all proceeds will benefit Chris Christie for President Inc.
Trump will also be appearing at a separate event at the same venue benefiting the New Jersey Republican Party, said Christie confidant and Republican National Committeeman Bill Palatucci. Tickets to that will go for $25,000, Palatucci said.
Christie was one of Trump’s earliest and most prominent backers and has appeared frequently with him on the campaign trail.
Christie ended his own campaign following a disappointing showing in the New Hampshire primary. His campaign account was about $250,000 in the red at the end of March, according to federal campaign finance filings.