Nomination battle over, Trump seeks to close ranks

Having prevailed in his remarkable run to the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump turns to his next task of healing crippling party divisions and solidifying support for his White House campaign.

AFP| Last Updated: Jul 20, 2016, 16:04 PM IST

Washington: Having prevailed in his remarkable run to the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump turns to his next task of healing crippling party divisions and solidifying support for his White House campaign.

Trump wasted little time basking in the glow of Tuesday`s historic achievement, flipping the script once again on the Republican National Convention and telling delegates he would see them Wednesday, a day before he officially accepts the nomination.

After a roller-coaster campaign that saw Trump defeat 16 rivals and steamroll stubborn party opposition, the tycoon said it was time to "go all the way" and beat Democrat Hillary Clinton in November.

"This is a movement," he told the delegates via video link.

On the convention floor, states from Alabama to West Virginia took it in turns to pledge their delegates.

It fell to Trump`s home state of New York, represented by a coterie of the candidate`s adult children, to hand him the majority-plus-one needed to clinch the nomination.

"It`s my honor to be able to throw Donald Trump over the top in the delegation count tonight," Donald Trump Jr said to cheers and applause.

When the brash real estate mogul descended down the escalators of Trump Tower in New York 13 months ago to announce his candidacy, few experts gave him even the faintest chance.

His campaign has defied political norms -- embracing racially inflammatory policies, offending key voting blocs, eschewing big-spending advertising campaigns and relying on saturated media coverage above campaign structure.

"It`s unbelievable. It`s surreal. I`m so proud of my father," said Trump`s eldest daughter and businesswoman Ivanka Trump, often described as his secret weapon.

"He`s the ultimate outsider and he did it. We are so proud of him."Around the convention floor, Trump`s victory was far from universally welcomed.

Many delegates clapped politely after his victory, a few angrily walked out or voiced their unease.

"I`m disappointed," said Senator Mike Lee of Utah. "But it is what it is."

Washington delegate Teri Galvez said baldly: "We do not support Donald Trump."

But some delegates who supported others in the primaries were already lining up behind Trump.

"Everybody realizes now that the family infighting is over, we do in fact have a candidate, and I would hope that 99 percent-plus of Republicans get behind that candidate moving forward," said Gary Inmon, a Texas delegate bound to Senator Ted Cruz but who is now solidly behind the nominee.As the last vestiges of Republican resistance were quashed, there were fresh signs that the party establishment had thrown its lot in with Trump in a bid to beat Clinton.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie led delegates in declaring Clinton "guilty" and encouraged visceral chants of "lock her up."

Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan, who hesitated to endorse Trump earlier this year, sounded like he was all in at the convention.

"The Obama years are almost over. The Clinton years are way over," Ryan said. "Two-thousand sixteen is the year America moves on."

The Trump campaign will hope that disdain for Clinton will unite the party and make a series of missteps irrelevant.

"The party is unified, we`re all here, I will bet you if you polled this place, there is not one vote for Hillary Clinton in this building," former key Trump lieutenant Corey Lewandowski told AFP.

"People are ready for a fundamental and unequivocal change in Washington and the person who is going to bring that is Donald Trump."

Before Trump emerged victorious, it had been a brutal week for the candidate.

His glamorous wife Melania Trump brought some pizzazz to the proceedings on opening night.

But an embarrassing plagiarism scandal tarnished her prime-time speech -- and brought her husband`s presidential campaign under withering scrutiny.

On Monday, delegates exchanged jeers and heckles as anti-Trump forces tried in vain to thwart his nomination.

Again Tuesday it fell to Trump`s kin to reshape his public image.

Donald Trump Jr, the candidate`s eldest son, made a sweeping speech peppered with personal anecdotes that humanized his father.

The married father of five touched on themes of economic inequality, job creation, promised healthcare for "our most vulnerable citizens" and to improve public education.

As in Melania Trump`s speech the night before, similarities were noted between phrases in the junior Trump`s keynote Tuesday night and an article published in a conservative publication.

But he was saved from major controversy when the author of the May 2 article in American Conservative, FH Buckley, stepped forward to say he had been a principal speechwriter for the Trump keynoter.

"So it`s not an issue," Buckley told Time.com.

On Wednesday another son, Eric Trump, will make the case for his father, while two senators whom Trump vanquished in the primary race, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, will also speak.

Trump`s vice presidential pick, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, addresses the confab too.

Clinton wasted no time seeking to capitalize on Trump`s party victory.

"Donald Trump just became the Republican nominee. Chip in now to make sure he never steps foot in the Oval Office," she said in a fundraising tweet.