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Donald Trump as Likely Republican Nominee Triggers Calls for Unity

After an unlikely rise, Donald Trump is now the likely Republican presidential nominee.
Image: Donald Trump
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York on May 3, 2016.JUSTIN LANE / EPA

Reaction to Donald Trump's likely Republican nomination ranged from humorous to horrified, but there's one thing Democrats and his GOP colleagues seemed to agree on: It's time for unity — whether for or against him.

"Unite" was the word of the day after Sen. Ted Cruz dropped out of the presidential race, leaving Donald Trump in the driver's seat.

Statements paying homage to the Texas senator were overshadowed by calls for action to prevent Trump and Hillary Clinton from reaching the White House.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted Tuesday that "If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed … and we will deserve it.” Four hours later he followed up with a message saying: “Great effort by the @TedCruz campaign to offer Republicans an alternative to Donald Trump and fight for conservatism.”

Lifelong Republicans took to Twitter to vent their frustration.

"Trust me, it's never too late to join #TheDemocrats," former Florida Governor Charlie Crist tweeted.

Clinton's campaign put things bluntly in the subject of an email to supporters: "Can you imagine Donald Trump as our next president?"

"When I imagine him in the White House, I'm disgusted," Clinton's deputy communications director wrote in the body of the message.

The Democratic frontrunner's campaign chairman John Podesta said separately that Trump "seeks to bully and divide Americans."

He added: "Throughout this campaign, Donald Trump has demonstrated that he’s too divisive and lacks the temperament to lead our nation and the free world. With so much at stake, Donald Trump is simply too big of a risk."

Clinton's campaign wrote that Trump had "effectively locked up" the Republican nomination — a billing backed up by the chairman of the Republican national committee.

Those words stung the campaign of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, which insisted it would forge ahead in the Republican race to offer voters a choice between "positive solutions" or a darker path featuring Clinton.

"It's up to us to stop Trump and unify our party in time to defeat Hillary Clinton," the Kasich campaign wrote in a fundraising email after Cruz dropped out of the race.

Other politicians took the same approach, though, in declaring their support for Trump. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant praised Cruz as a "true patriot" who made a "hard-fought run."

"I will support Donald Trump to stop Hillary Clinton from becoming president of these United States," Bryant said in a statement. "He now has the responsibility and certainly the ability to unite this Grand Old Party and go on to victory. As a conservative, I will find common cause in this election because the possibility of a Clinton victory is unacceptable. We now join together."

Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer sounded a similar note.

Trump's campaign manager dismissed the "Stop Trump" movement as a "passing fad," saying that whether people "like it or not" his candidate will be the Republican nominee.

"It's time to bring everyone together and make sure there's one focus and that focus is ensuring a Republican takes back the White House," Corey Lewandowski told reporters on Tuesday. "The sooner we bring everyone together, the better chance we have of having success against Hillary Clinton."