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Donald Trump Campaigns In West Virginia Ahead Of GOP Primary


Donald Trump made his first campaign stop as the Republican Party's de facto nominee. He was stumping in Charleston, W. Va., ahead of that state's primary next week.


DONALD TRUMP: I actually wish the primaries were not over. It's no fun this way. I want the primaries to keep going, but everybody's out. I'm the only one left. That's OK, right?


TRUMP: Right?

SIEGEL: One of Trump's goals now is to unify the Republican Party, and he's got his work cut out for him. Speaking on CNN today, House Speaker Paul Ryan said he was not ready to get behind Trump.


PAUL RYAN: I'm just not ready to do that at this point. I'm not there right now.

SIEGEL: NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea is in West Virginia with Trump. And Don, Paul Ryan - most powerful elected Republican in the country - says he can't get behind Trump now. Did Trump say anything in response to that?

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: Trump did not mention Paul Ryan. He did not respond specifically to that. He did kind of grumble and complain about the establishment and how they've tried to stop him and they've failed. And there was certainly some, you know, some bravado and some gloating over his victories without mentioning any of his opponents by name.

But we did talk to people who came here to see Donald Trump and who were very excited to see Donald Trump. And I asked them about Paul Ryan. Some of them were upset. Some of them were angry. Some of them were disappointed. One guy said, oh, Paul Ryan will come along by the time we get to the Cleveland convention. He's going to come along. It's going to be a unified party. Somebody else said Paul Ryan will regret having said this. So you got all of those kinds of reactions to it.

SIEGEL: Well, tell us what else Trump said at the rally and whether you noticed any change in his tone as he prepares for November.

GONYEA: You know, it was a little more playful, which is not to say he hasn't been playful, you know, now and again over the course of the past, you know, four, five, six, seven months - jeez, longer than that - that he's been doing this. But there was kind of a feeling of a pep rally and a victory party. And he's won, and he's looking ahead.

He talked about, you know, having vanquished the field, but he looked ahead and spent most of his time in terms of opponents talking - no surprise here - about Hillary Clinton. And because we're in West Virginia, a lot of talk about how Hillary Clinton is part of the war on coal and how she has said that she thinks, you know, the coal mines and the coal jobs are things that will go away and that we need to invest here.

And he turns that clearly into a rallying cry - a lot of coal miners in the audience, right? But then he said this very curious thing. Against, West Virginia - the primary is coming up, but listen to what he told the voters here.


TRUMP: The vote was supposed to be on Tuesday, but now I can say, stay home, but get twice as many people in November - right? - because we have to win. We have to win the general election.

GONYEA: So there's no (laughter) vote now to get ready for November. It's like, we got this one won. Chill out. Don't vote (laughter). We'll see you in November. I've never heard a candidate say that.

SIEGEL: No. Trump basically wrapped up the nomination fight this week. What are you hearing from voters there in West Virginia about the general election where it looks like it will be Trump against Hillary Clinton?

GONYEA: Again, lots of excitement, lots of buzz, lots of people here - you know, probably more than 10,000. They were lined up down the block, around the block in the rain. But you did hear people say Hillary Clinton is going to be a formidable opponent, that Donald Trump is going to have to get more serious and he's going to have to change the way he campaigns. You heard that from some very strong supporters today.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's Don Gonyea in West Virginia. Don, thanks.

GONYEA: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at NPR.org. To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.

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