RNC chief warns Trump supporters and opponents

Story highlights

  • RNC met in Florida this week
  • RNC chairman: 'We can't win unless we rally around whoever becomes our nominee'

Hollywood, Florida (CNN)Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus laid out the boundaries for both Donald Trump and his many opponents Friday in a speech aimed at holding together his party at a time when it seems it is under assault from all sides.

Priebus opened his speech to RNC members here with a stern shot at the #NeverTrump forces.
    "It is essential to victory in November that we all support our candidate," Priebus said. "This goes for everyone, whether you're a county party chairman, an RNC member or a presidential candidate. Politics is a team sport, and we can't win unless we rally around whoever becomes our nominee."
    But Priebus then quickly turned around with a sharp warning for the Trump campaign, saying that 1,237 was still the number of delegates needed to win the Republican nomination.
    "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades," he said.
    Priebus' speech capped a week of intense politicking at The Diplomat Resort as the party confronts the potential of a contested convention in July. Trump has blasted the GOP's nominating process as "crooked" and "rigged," and the party's rules committee sought to avoid even the appearance of touching the nominating process amid the intense scrutiny.
    Some RNC members also voiced their concerns over death threats their colleague, Colorado Republican Party Chairman Steve House, received after Trump accused him of rigging his state's contest.
    But Trump's new hires, Paul Manafort and Rick Wiley -- party veterans with strong ties among the establishment -- worked hard behind the scenes to assuage members. Manafort promised RNC members in a closed-door meeting Thursday that the bluster they heard from Trump was just an image he was "projecting" and would change as he got closer to the nomination.