GOP frontrunner Donald Trump said on Sunday that he’s only interested in winning the GOP nomination on the first ballot by reaching 1,237 delegates before the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, in July.
“I only care about the first [ballot]. We’re not going for the second, the third, fourth and fifth,” Trump told thousands of his supporters in Hagerstown, Maryland at the Rider Jet Center. “I think we get that 1,237.”
Trump later added that if the nomination went to a second ballot, he hopes all of his supporters will be in Cleveland.
“The only thing they can hope is we don’t get it on first ballot,” Trump said of his rivals.
I’ll tell you what, if a guy that’s losing by all those millions of votes wins, we’re going to have some people that are going to be very, very angry and I hope, but only in positive way, I hope that all of you and everybody that’s listening can go in July to Cleveland because we’re going to have something that’s going to be so beautiful, but you have to play the game. It’s a rigged system.
“We’re like fighters” going into unfriendly territory, Trump said of himself and his supporters.
— Stephanie (@stephitv) April 24, 2016
Supporters waited in line since 6:30 a.m. to see the billionaire, even though the rally didn’t start until after 4 p.m.
— Herald-Mail Media (@HeraldMailNews) April 24, 2016
“I’m only interested in the first ballot,” the billionaire repeated, adding, “because I’m really interested in winning it early and that’s it.”
Trump referenced how his rivals, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, have been courting delegates so that if the nomination process goes beyond the first ballot, the delegates personally favor them over Trump.
“I’m not necessarily looking to fly people all over the world … wine them and dine them … so that on the fourth ballot, I can win,” he said, adding that’s “too much.”
“Over the weekend and last week my folks were meeting with the Republican National Committee … Cruz is going and he’s wining and dining and dinners and hotels and all this stuff. He’s bribing people essentially to vote,” Trump alleged about Cruz bribing delegates to support him. “It’s a rigged system.”
“Cruz is working really hard to … bribe the delegates from all over the place on the second ballot, the third ballot, the fourth ballot … we’re only interested in the first ballot because we should win it,” Trump challenged. “I want to see what the cost of hotels and food and everything else [on delegates] is for Cruz,” Trump said, saying he bets it’s “astronomical.”
[If] we go to a second round, Trump has millions of votes more by that time…I’ll be 500 [to] 600 delegates ahead and maybe I’ll be 25 [delegates] short, but remember the 25 short [is because] when I started, we had the 17 [candidates]. I was never going one-on-one.
Trump also predicted he will do well on Tuesday when voters in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Delaware and Connecticut cast their votes.
“On Tuesday, I’m expected to win all five [states], I hope,” Trump touted. “Tomorrow, all day I’m going to Rhode Island.”
The real estate mogul has a morning campaign rally in Rhode Island on Monday and is holding two rallies later in the day in Pennsylvania. He campaigned in Connecticut and Delaware over the weekend.