Will Donald Trump be able to unite Republicans behind him in the presidential race?


Donald Trump seems to be struggling to unify the Republican Party behind his presidential campaign.

The difficulty was underscored on Thursday by a startling exchange of negative comments from GOP House speaker Paul Ryan who said he was not ready to support him.

Although Trump is now the party's presumptive nominee, Ryan told CNN: "I'm just not ready to do that at this point. I'm not there right now." Still, he added: "I hope to. And I want to."

Trump has responded tit-for-tat, saying he is "not ready to support" Ryan's agenda as the party's leader in the US House adding: "Perhaps in the future we can work together and come to an agreement about what is best for the American people."


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Trump seems to be remaining upbeat, saying that his message has made the GOP "the hottest party around".

He's now trying to convert that energy into dollars for his campaign - which has hardly been helped by the rejection, for now, by Ryan.

On Thursday, Trump named a finance chairman, Steven Mnuchin, a private investor with ties to New York and Hollywood. Mnuchin "brings unprecedented experience and expertise" to the fundraising operation, the campaign said.

Donald Trump (Mary Altaffer/AP/PA)

And Trump is taking pains to reassure party leaders that he wants to help Republican Senate and House candidates, some of whom are openly worried that Trump at the top of the GOP ticket will be a drag on their own campaigns.

(Mitt Romney and former president George W. Bush said they do not plan to attend the party's national convention in July, by the way.)

But with Ryan, Bush and Romney keeping Trump at arm's length, their reluctance to embrace him sends an unmistakable signal to their fundraising networks, which include most of the GOP's best-connected donors.

"You might have a lot of these donors sit on the sidelines," said Spencer Zwick, who led Romney's fundraising efforts and now serves as Ryan's national finance chairman.

Donald Trump on a golf buggy (Jane Barlow/PA)

Trump, a billionaire who paid for most of his primary campaign by himself, acknowledges he would have to sell some of his holdings to muster the hundreds of millions of dollars for a general election bid, something he says he doesn't necessarily want to do.

He said Thursday he would be "putting up substantial money toward the general election," following the 36 million dollars in loans he previously made.

Trump also hopes to tap into the Republican National Committee's existing fundraising network, but faces hurdles.

"High-dollar donors need to be convinced that Trump is going to be a serious candidate and won't embarrass them," said Charlie Spies, a veteran Republican operative with deep ties to party fundraisers.

A supporter holds up a hat for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (Darron Cummings/AP/PA)

By the end of March, Trump had raised 12 million dollars, mostly from fans who clicked the "donate" button on his website or bought wares such as the ubiquitous red baseball cap emblazoned with his slogan, Make America Great Again, campaign finance documents show.

That contrasts with Hillary Clinton, who has raised some 187 million dollars so far and back in November began her general election fundraising effort, which can solicit huge cheques for her campaign, the Democratic National Committee and state parties.