Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus offered a stilted embrace of his party’s presumptive nominee Wednesday, acknowledging that the fractious primary means some GOP voters need to heal before unifying behind Donald Trump.
“It will take some time. This was a very contentious battle. It’s not easy when you have 17 candidates and people’s second and third choices didn’t win,” Priebus told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day.”
However, in a tweet posted after Trump’s victory, Priebus referred to Trump as the GOP’s “presumptive nominee” and called for party unity, though he noted that the real estate developer still needs more delegates to clinch the nomination.
Priebus echoed that call on Wednesday, adding that Trump’s unorthodox candidacy was “probably good” for the GOP.
“It’s time to unite, it’s time to come together,” he said. “I think something different, something new, is probably good for our party.”
The chairman dismissed criticism that Trump’s rhetoric and positions on issues that stray from the party’s platform would be an issue.
“If Donald Trump ultimately becomes the nominee, which I think he will be, he’s going to be joining the party ” Priebus said. “The candidates join us, we don’t join the candidates. So our party platform is clear, the things we believe in are clear. We don’t change what we believe in as a party.”
Priebus noted that Trump still needs to earn enough delegates to secure the nomination and his one remaining rival, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, needs to figure out his campaign’s future.
“Donald Trump still has to get to 1,237, and John Kasich needs to decide what he’s going to do,” Priebus said. “I’m not going to tell him to get out or stay in. But we in the mean time are going to come together, we need to start doing things to raise more money, to get more boots on the ground.”
RNC communications director Sean Spicer later told CNN it was nearly impossible for Trump not to gather the number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination.
“With the number of bound delegates in the contests remaining, there is no question for anybody who has done third-grade math will realize that he will get to 1,237,” Spicer said.