PHOENIX, Ariz. — Donald Trump issued a warning on Saturday to Republicans who might be trying to undermine his candidacy at next month’s GOP convention, insisting it wouldn’t be “legal” for his opponents to block him from the party’s presidential nomination.
Speaking to a few thousand supporters here at the final stop of an eight-day, 10-city campaign swing across the country, Trump at first tried to dismiss rumors of a party revolt against his status as the presumptive GOP nominee, calling them “pure fabrication” by the media.
But the real estate mogul and former reality television star seemed clearly annoyed by the prospect, mentioning rumors of a “movement” against him several times to supporters.
“I hear they want to try do something at the convention. Wouldn’t it be funny if Trump gets record-setting votes in the states, and somebody what was beat by me like a drum says our nominee [isn’t me],” Trump said. “First of all, it’s not legal, can’t do it. The Republican National Committee is with me 100 percent. Reince Priebus, a very good guy, he said it’s the most ridiculous thing he’s ever heard.”
But Trump wouldn’t let the subject drop and reminded the crowd of his primary wins. He bragged that he’d won more votes in the GOP primary than Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and even Dwight D. Eisenhower, “who in all fairness,” Trump added, “won the Second World War.”
“We won, and we are going to keep winning,” he declared. “They just can’t beat me.”
Though Trump repeatedly insisted that the idea of a coup at the GOP convention was being hyped up by the media, he admitted he could see one of his rivals plotting against him. “They don’t take it easy, and it was a rough vote,” Trump said. “There were some badly injured and wounded people. And I wouldn’t say they love me. I wouldn’t say it.”
Trump’s comments were slightly toned down here, compared to a stop earlier Saturday in Las Vegas, where he implied two of his primary rivals — former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — were trying to steal the nomination away from him.
“By the way, Jeb is working on the movement, just so you understand. I love competition like that. I love it,” he told supporters in Nevada. “And the other one should be obvious to you, but we’ll figure that out very easily.”
Trump has had a rough entry into the general election, in part due to self-generated controversies. These included his response to the Orlando massacre, his racially tinged criticisms of a federal judge overseeing a lawsuit involving Trump University and his inability to unite a deeply fractured party behind his nomination. Talk has swirled in some GOP circles of launching a long-shot bid to change the rules at next month’s convention to oust Trump as the party’s standard-bearer.
But Trump tried to sound a positive note in Arizona, citing polls that show him running “essentially even” with his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, though recent polls have been fairly positive for Clinton. And, Trump said, “We haven’t really started yet. We’re just beginning.”
Still, Trump at times sounded irritated about the process of running for president. At one point, he said, “I need this like I need a hole in the head.”
But there have been bright moments, he allowed. Pointing to all the magazine covers he’s been featured on over the last year, Trump was jubilant. “I feel like a supermodel but, like, times 10,” he said.