Trump stumps for first time as presumptive GOP nominee

Story highlights

  • "I actually wish the primaries were not over," Trump said
  • Trump relished the opportunity to kick off his speech by going after likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton

Charleston, West Virginia (CNN)Donald Trump took his first stab at a general election pitch here on Thursday where he hosted his first rally since becoming the presumptive Republican nominee earlier this week.

Delivering an economy-focused speech, Trump homed in on the economic anxieties rippling through this coal-reliant state, entirely avoided the bombshell that Paul Ryan is not yet prepared to back his candidacy and instead trained his sights on Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee.
    "I'm going to put the miners to work and she said I'm going to put the miners and the mines out of business," Trump said, referencing a recent stumble Clinton had to apologize for in West Virginia days earlier.
    But even as he pivoted to the general election, Trump jokingly bemoaned the end of a bitter primary season that saw him exchanging attack after attack with his Republican primary competitors.
    "I actually wish the primaries were not over. It's no fun this way," Trump said as he emerged onstage here. "I want the primaries to keep going, but everybody's out. I'm the only one left -- that's OK."
    Trump, however, has not lost his characteristic swagger -- even suggesting his supporters should stay home Tuesday when West Virginians vote in the Republican primary.
    "Save your vote," Trump said. "Now I can say stay home but get twice as many people in November because we have to win in the general election."
    Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Trump's final competitors, dropped out of the race this week, but Trump still needs to win several of the remaining contests to secure the 1,237 delegates needed to be the Republican nominee.
    But even as he will likely have no problem sweeping up the remaining delegates needed to be officially nominated as his party's nominee, Trump still has work to do to unite a fractured GOP.
    Ryan told CNN's Jake Tapper just a few hours before Trump took the stage Thursday that he is "not ready" to back Trump's candidacy.
    Trump fired off a statement before taking the stage, saying he "is not ready to support Speaker Ryan's agenda" but made no mention of the strife during his rally.
    But Pastor Mark Burns, a Trump surrogate who introduced Trump onstage, accused Ryan of saying he would "never endorse" Trump -- though Ryan said he could eventually if Trump embraces GOP values -- and used the news to rail against the establishment.
    "Why is the establishment is afraid of Donald J. Trump?" Burns asked. "They're afraid because they can't control him."
    Trump avoided the intra-party fighting in favor of pledging to revitalize the declining coal industry -- though he did not say how -- and digging into Clinton.
    He again pointed to an assertion made by Clinton's Democratic primary rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders, that Clinton has bad judgment, named her repeatedly as "Crooked Hillary" and even took an apparent swipe at the scandals that plagued the administration of her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
    "Let me tell you something: The Clinton administration, of which Hillary was definitely a part -- she was a part of almost everything. Almost, I say, not everything," Trump said to laughter, then applause.
    "I didn't think the people of West Virginia thought like that, that's terrible. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Terrible, terrible people," Trump said with a wide grin on his face.
    Trump also accepted the endorsement of the West Virginia Coal Association, which represents mining operators.
    Trump vowed to return to the state as he campaigns in the general election, and vowed his presidency would deliver big benefits for the state's main industry.
    "We'll start winning, winning, winning, and you are going to be very proud, and for those miners, get ready because you're going to be working your asses off!" he said.
    Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described the West Virginia Coal Association. It represents mining operators.