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Donald Trump's Republican Victory Marks New Political Reality


The presidential race is now in a new stage. Donald Trump still has some delegates to win and a convention to get through, but he's sure to be the Republican nominee for president. The New York businessman's triumph at the polls has a lot of people with decades of political experience trying to come to terms with a very new reality. And that includes our own Ron Elving, NPR senior editor and correspondent. He's with me now. Hi, Ron.


NEARY: Well, it did seem inevitable, but it took a while for it to finally happen. And that happened on Tuesday. Trump won in Indiana. Ted Cruz quit. John Kasich withdrew the next day. Is that when this new political reality really hit for you?

ELVING: Indeed. You know, in 40 years as a political observer, there have been four or five days that really stand out as watershed moments - Reagan's first landslide in 1980, the Supreme Court deciding Bush v. Gore in 2000, maybe Barack Obama sealing the nomination in 2008. Those were all moments of historical catch-your-breath significance. And this last Wednesday felt a little bit like that.

NEARY: Yeah, well, how would you compare this moment to the moments you just described?

ELVING: We still don't know what the full portent of this moment might be, as with those others we do. But we still don't know where the Donald Trump phenomenon will wind up.

NEARY: You know, a lot of Republicans are in the same boat as you are, Ron. That is, they are trying to adjust their understanding to a new reality, a different kind of presidential contest. And we saw that playing out a lot this week.

ELVING: Yes, we did. Jeb Bush, who some people a year ago thought would be the next Republican nominee, has said he cannot vote for the Republican nominee if it's Donald Trump in November of 2016. Speaker Paul Ryan, who is the highest ranking Republican in the federal government, has said he's not ready to support Donald Trump yet. He might yet, but he wants to see Trump change.

Senator Lindsey Graham, who was also a presidential candidate, he said he can't vote for Trump. Senator Ben Sasse from Nebraska, leading younger light in the Senate on the Republican side, says he can't vote for Donald Trump. Former presidents or presidential nominees of the Republican Party have either said they're not going to the convention or that they can't commit.

NEARY: Donald Trump is now running a national - has to run a national campaign. He's running for president. Do you see any sign that he is changing?

ELVING: You know, we keep expecting him to. We expect him to pivot back toward the mainstream, back to the more traditional Republican positions on issues, to more traditional Republican voters. But thus far he has stayed very much in Donald Trump character, tweeting his taco bowl and talking about how he loves the Hispanics, holding rallies like the one he did in Charleston, W.V., this week where he rather blithely resolved the nation's energy and environmental and pollution dilemmas, and all in a single stroke, when he said this.


DONALD TRUMP: We're going to put the miners back to work. We're going to put the miners back to work.

NEARY: He still sounds like a very confident Donald Trump. And I wonder if the Democrats - they have to adjust to a new reality as well. And do you see signs that they're doing that?

ELVING: The Clinton people were ready to go. They certainly have had Donald Trump in their sights for some while. They were out with a - an album of his greatest hits, jaw-dropping things that he has said, awful things that have been said about him. That came out within a very few hours after he had secured his nomination. So they're gleeful about having Trump as a target.

But, you know, Clinton has a lot of question marks over her candidacy as well. She has yet to actually secure her nomination. She'll probably go through the rest of May without winning a primary. And that's obviously a sign of all the difficulties that she's still got to work through in her own candidacy.

NEARY: That's NPR senior editor and correspondent Ron Elving. Thanks so much, Ron.

ELVING: Thank you, Lynn. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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