How GOP bigwigs made their peace with Trump

With Donald Trump heading toward what more and more Republicans believe will be victory in the GOP primaries, an increasing number of party figures — none fans of Trump originally — are making their peace with the idea of Trump as their nominee. Some are even working out an argument, at least in their own minds, that Trump has a plausible chance to defeat Hillary Clinton in a general election.

There have been brief establishment flirtations with Trump in the past. But those flirtations ended when Trump said something outrageous or the campaign took some (brief) anti-Trump turn, most recently when Ted Cruz won the Wisconsin primary on April 5. Now, with Trump's five-for-five victories in the Northeast last Tuesday, some establishment members are doing more than flirting with the idea of Trump. They're accepting it.

What follows won't include names, but is based on private conversations with several stalwart Republicans, including a former top party official, former members of Congress who have been active in the campaign, a member of the party's foreign-policy establishment, two former managers of GOP presidential campaigns, and more. In addition, several other influential Republicans, like Sens. Bob Corker and John Cornyn, along with former House Speaker John Boehner, have spoken out publicly in a somewhat Trump-friendly way recently.

Each says different things, but overall, there is one reason for the change in attitude: voters. In this case, 10,056,690 Republican primary votes for Trump (so far) have a way of changing a politician's mind.

The GOP politicos carefully count delegates — some the old-fashioned way, on a legal pad, instead of using the various delegate calculators on the web — and now believe Trump will win at least the 1,237 required to clinch the Republican nomination on the first ballot. Most began to feel that way after Trump won New York with 60.5 percent of the vote, not only stopping the momentum Cruz had gained by winning Wisconsin but also punching a hole in the idea of a Trump "ceiling."

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