Is the GOP ready to back Trump?

Republican elected officials, donors and strategists grappled uncomfortably with the inevitability of Donald Trump as their presidential nominee, an unexpectedly sudden denouement that left many in a state of political paralysis and others vowing to oppose the party’s new standard-bearer.

Republican U.S. presidential candidate and businessman Donald Trump.

While some called for unity, many Republican leaders refrained from falling in line behind Mr. Trump.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, who is in a tough re-election race, signalled that she would “support” Mr. Trump but not “endorse” him, as a spokeswoman put it, a rhetorical contortion that other Republicans repeated privately. Former Gov. Bob Martinez of Florida, who retains a strong network of donors, said he would raise money for Mr. Trump but was unsure about his proposals, like temporarily banning foreign Muslims from entering the United States.

Widespread antipathy
For a party that usually rallies around its presumptive nominee quickly, the brutal primary campaign and the questions about Mr. Trump’s substance and style have fuelled a remarkable level of dissatisfaction — antipathy that will not fade simply because Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio have ceded the race to him.

The journey from denial and resistance to grudging acceptance, and even peace, with the Trump nomination may never be complete for some Republicans. But leaders hope to change that quickly, to save the party from splintering and to have a real shot at winning in November.

“There will be some that will take days and weeks to realise that there are two choices and that it’s between Donald Trump and the Democratic nominee, which most of us believe will be Hillary Clinton,” said Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi.

Mr. Bryant, who supported Mr. Cruz, called on him and others to back Mr. Trump. “Realistically, and I think Republicans are realists, this is an opportunity to have a Republican President sitting in the Oval Office,” he said.

Mr. Trump’s achievement also drew a rebuke of sorts from the last two Republican Presidents. Aides to George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush said they would not participate in or comment on the presidential campaign. By contrast, they supported the Republican nominees in the last two elections: John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. This cycle, Mr. Trump ran a sharply negative campaign against former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, the son of the elder Bush and brother of the younger, who dropped out in February.

The lingering resistance to Mr. Trump is especially strong in some of the States and congressional districts with hotly contested races this year. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who is from a competitive district in South Florida and has been outspoken about his refusal to support Mr. Trump, said Hispanics in his district were furious at Mr. Trump over his inflammatory language about Latinos.

The widespread discomfort and anxiety about Mr. Trump was utterly clear in the hours after he became the presumptive nominee on Tuesday night. Most leading Republicans were publicly silent. William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, said the hostility toward Mr. Trump could be damaging if the Republican convention this summer gets out of hand or if his unusually high negative ratings end up hurting other Republicans.

Still, in some quarters, reconciliation between Mr. Trump and his onetime critics is under way. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who clashed bitterly with Mr. Trump before dropping out of the race, has had multiple phone conversations with him recently, according to Republicans close to Mr. Trump. (Aides to Mr. Rubio declined to comment.) — New York Times News Service