- The Washington Times - Monday, May 9, 2016

YORK, Penn. — Republicans in Washington may be wringing their hands over Donald Trump, but rank-and-file voters are suffering no such qualms, and instead are eagerly embracing the GOP’s presumptive nominee.

Voters who backed Mr. Trump’s opponents in the primary recently told The Washington Times they’re ready to get behind the billionaire businessman. And less than a week after sewing up the nomination, he also appears to be winning some of the independents and Democrats that will be critical to grabbing deep-blue Pennsylvania and Delaware, states that haven’t voted for a Republican president in a generation.

A Pennsylvania State Police trooper who stopped at a Rutter’s Farm Store outside York for coffee before embarking on his patrol in the state’s central region told The Times that he voted for Sen. Ted Cruz in the primary but was ready to back Mr. Trump in November.

“I’m a Republican,” explained the trooper, who asked not to be identified talking about politics because of his job. “One of our problems in this country is money management, and he certainly can assist with that problem.”

About 25 miles north, in the state capital of Harrisburg, gun shop owner Joe Staudt said he too voted for Mr. Cruz in the primary but was now on the Trump Train, and is irate that top Republicans refused to get aboard.

“It’s childish or maybe even selfish,” said Mr. Staudt, 55, a former Marine. “The power brokers in Washington certainly don’t want to give up their gravy train — that’s both parties.”

The state GOP was following their lead.

“We are a bottom-up organization,” said Megan Sweeney, spokeswoman for Republican Party of Pennsylvania, where the party officials fell in line behind Mr. Trump after his landslide win in the state’s primary. “The voters spoke loud and clear about who they wanted as the nominee.”

That’s the same posture taken by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus, who has called for party unity behind Mr. Trump. But establishment figures — including House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney and several of Mr. Trump’s primary rivals — have refused to pledge their support.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Ryan plan to meet Thursday in Washington, and the speaker has offered to give up his role presiding over the Republican National Convention this summer in Cleveland if requested by Mr. Trump.

“There’s a lot of conservatives out there saying, ‘Well, conservatives don’t support him and the party doesn’t really support him.’ But the truth of the matter is that this guy is winning over the conservative base,” said Republican strategist and pollster Jim McLaughlin.

He noted that Mr. Trump beat Mr. Cruz, a champion of tea party conservatives, in the Pennsylvania primary by 25 points among evangelicals and by 30 points among self-described conservatives.

Mr. Trump has set his sights on blue states such as Pennsylvania, where the real estate mogul’s economic message of getting America to “win” again resonates with disaffected working-class voters.

Pennsylvania was one of five Northeast states, including Delaware, that Mr. Trump swept April 26 as he moved to lock up the nomination.

“Donald Trump won every county. I can’t remember the last time a candidate in a contested presidential primary did that,” said Ms. Sweeney. “Everywhere that you look, there is just this groundswell of support. It’s unprecedented.”

Katie Nimon, 22, a registered Democrat who waits tables here at Otto’s Kitchen & Cocktails, said she voted for Sen. Bernard Sanders in the primary but plans to cast her ballot for Donald Trump in November if he faces likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“Time after time she has proved to be a manipulative liar,” said Ms. Nimon, who also studies international relations at York College.

The same solid support for Mr. Trump was heard in nearby Delaware, which, like Pennsylvania, hasn’t voted for a Republican since George H.W. Bush won the White House in 1988.

“There’s a lot of Trump support here because a lot of people are like me — sick and tired of the way things are,” said Donna Pusey, 64, a barber and registered Democrat who vowed to vote for Mr. Trump in November.

Ms. Pusey said she sat out the Democratic primary because she would “rather get run over by a semi” than chose between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders.

She also called the treatment of Mr. Trump by GOP leaders an “abomination.”

“They’re afraid he’s going to stop a lot of cash flow into their pockets,” she said.

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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