Donald Trump said he's already secured the majority of delegates in Pennsylvania.
Trump has met with Indiana Governor Mike Pence, but doesn't know if Pence will endorse him.
Donald Trump swept through Pennsylvania on Tuesday night with 57% of the vote, 35 points better than his nearest competitor – a trouncing that led Trump to declare himself “the presumptive nominee.”
CNN and other news organizations have not yet followed suit.
The billionaire businessman’s romp in the Keystone State earned him all 17 of its bound delegates and put him in prime position to win votes from at least 35 of its 54 first ballot free agents.
But Trump will not emerge from Pennsylvania with the guaranteed support of any of those unbound delegates. Their intentions will remain something of a mystery heading into the July convention, although the front-runner touted their support on CNN’s “New Day.”
“We also signed a lot of delegates … We have them, as opposed to waiting around for the convention,” he told host Chris Cuomo. “Others are to come. Many of them are already signed.”
Pennsylvania will send 71 delegates to Cleveland this summer, but only 17 are awarded to the statewide winner. The other 54 enter the convention unbound, creating a delegate bloc potentially large enough to make or break the front-runner in his quest for the 1,237 votes needed to clinch the nomination.
Trump will likely emerge with victories in all 18 Pennsylvania congressional districts and each of the state’s 67 counties. Of the 35 unbound delegates now likely to support Trump at the convention, 17 told CNN they would back their congressional district winner and another 18 promised to vote for him in Cleveland.
In the days leading up to the primary, CNN reached out to all 162 Pennsylvania Republicans running for delegate positions. Of the 135 to respond, a plurality said they would follow the lead of their congressional district. Of those backing a specific candidate, slightly more said they would back Trump over Cruz, with none telling CNN they planned to support Kasich.
Based on those comments and results from the Pennsylvania Department of State, Cruz is likely to emerge with two backers. John Kasich is expected to be shutout.
Pennsylvania’s “loophole primary” set the stage for weeks of screwball politicking – and not just by the presidential candidates. One woman, a farmer from the state’s third congressional district, painted Trump’s name in gigantic white letters on a grassy field. Lynne Ryan’s gesture earned her an appreciative tweet from the candidate himself, who read about it in a New York Times feature.
Others took more traditional routes.
Ryan Costello, a U.S. congressman from the sixth district, told CNN that if elected he would support his constituents’ choice on the first ballot. If he keeps his word, that means another vote for Trump.
Same for Arnold McClure, who appeared on the Trump campaign’s slate despite telling CNN ahead of the vote he would back his fifth district’s choice at the convention.
“The Trump people chose to endorse me,” he explained, “not because of a promise I made, but because I told them whoever wins the popular vote in the 5th will get my vote until hell freezes over.”
“If any deals are done,” he added, “it will be done with someone else’s vote.”
In the days before the election, both the Trump and Cruz campaigns distributed delegate slates to supporters, knowing that the preferences of the hopefuls – even if they had been made public – would not appear on the ballot.
Looking ahead to next week’s Indiana primary, Trump said he’s met with Gov. Mike Pence. While Trump praised Pence, he said he didn’t think the governor would endorse anyone.
“He’s done a very, very good job as governor,” Trump said. “I don’t know if we’ll get his endorsement.”