The Note: And Then There Was One


--WHAT TRUMP’S PATH TO 1,237 LOOKS LIKE: While the Republican field has now been cleared for Donald Trump, the road ahead is still messy for the front-runner to become the official nominee at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, in July, ABC’s LAUREN PEARLE and RYAN STRUYK note. Currently, Trump has 1,012 bound delegates, plus an additional 43 unbound delegates who are free agents -- though they have told ABC News they support Trump. Most likely, Trump will hit and far surpass the needed 1,237 in total delegates on June 7, when delegate-rich states like New Jersey and California cast their ballots. He is predicted to take most of the 228 delegates up for grabs on that day. Before June 7, though it is mathematically impossible for Trump to clinch the nomination with only bound delegates, he could still hit the winning delegate number with unbound (free agent) delegates after the primaries in Oregon and Washington, which happen in late May.

--HIS RISE -- BY THE NUMBERS: As the last man standing in the GOP race, the real estate mogul and reality TV star defied the forecasts of pundits, who almost unanimously dismissed his chances as soon as he rode down that escalator to deliver his campaign-launch speech at Trump Tower in June. While the reasons for his success will continue to be debated, the numbers are undeniable. Trump captured 40 percent of all votes in GOP primaries and caucuses, from Iowa to Indiana, according to ABC News' vote tallies. His nearest competitors, Ted Cruz (27 percent), John Kasich (14 percent), and Marco Rubio (13 percent) trailed well behind. ABC’s CHRIS GOOD has more:

--BUSH 41, 43 DO NOT PLAN TO ENDORSE: President George H.W. Bush and his son President George W. Bush have no plans to endorse Trump, their spokespeople told ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE. "President Bush does not plan to participate in or comment on the presidential campaign,” the younger Bush's spokesman, Freddy Ford, said. Jim McGrath, spokesman for the elder Bush, said the 41st president is out of politics. "At age 91, President Bush is retired from politics," McGrath said in an email. "He naturally did a few things to help Jeb, but those were the 'exceptions that proved the rule.'"

--TRUMP SAYS HE WON’T SELF-FUND GENERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN: Trump said yesterday he will renege on one of the core tenants of his campaign, ABC’s CANDACE SMITH notes. He announced this morning on "Good Morning America" that he would accept “small contributions,” and later told the Wall Street Journal that he won’t be entirely self-funding his campaign. “I’ll be putting up money, but won’t be completely self-funding, as I did during the primaries,” Trump told the WSJ. A campaign official confirmed to ABC News, as first reported by the WSJ, that Trump will tap into his vast personal Rolodex to shore up his campaign so that it will be able to compete in a general election. The official went on to say that the campaign will likely operate on a business model that is less expensive than traditional campaigns. Trump also announced on NBC that he hopes to raise $1 billion, working in conjunction with the Republican National Committee.

--ANALYSIS -- ABC’s RICK KLEIN: To most prominent Republican leaders, the reaction to Donald Trump has fallen somewhere on the spectrum between embrace and acquiescence. A few senators and governors are saying they won’t vote for him; many more are saying they will, though they may not like it or even say they would “endorse” him, whatever that means in this context. Then there’s Sen. Ben Sasse, asserting that it’s time to change the game. “Heads, they win; tails, you lose,” Sasse wrote in a long Facebook posting early Thursday. “Why are we confined to these two terrible options? This is America. If both choices stink, we reject them and go bigger.” The process and the personality are being left for others to decide. But Sasse is advocating a compelling consistency that looks beyond 2020. If voters are as fed up with politics as usual as they seem to be saying, Sasse argues, why do the usual thing? His broader calculation – that principle should prevail over even the ultimate political prize – won’t be an easy short-term sell. Sasse, though – perhaps like the conservative moment – is in it for the long term.


NEXT TUESDAY PREVIEW -- APPALACHIAN SWING: HOW CLINTON COUNTRY BECAME TRUMP TERRITORY IN 2016. During his victory speech Tuesday night after the Indiana primary, Donald Trump emphasized a region that could be ground zero for support: Appalachia. “The miners in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, Ohio and all over, they’re going to start to work again,” Trump said. “We are not going to be like Hillary Clinton,” he said, taking aim at her ill-timed remarks last more for which she ultimately apologized. ABC’s MERIDITH MCGRAW has more.

--BACKSTORY: Once upon a time in coal country -- states stretching along the Appalachian Mountains and the Marcellus Shale, a formation rich in underground resources like natural gas and coal -- the Clinton name reigned. Not anymore. Trump, the glitzy billionaire from New York City, frequently mentions his popularity in the region on the campaign trail, and his message of bringing back factory jobs, revitalizing the coal industry and pushing for protectionist trade policies has excited white, economically depressed and underemployed blue collar voters in a geographic stretch from southern Pennsylvania to Kentucky.



KASICH SUSPENDS PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN. John Kasich announced Wednesday he was suspending his presidential campaign. “As I suspend my campaign today, I have renewed faith, deeper faith that the Lord will show me the way forward and fulfill the purpose of my life,” the Ohio governor said in the same refurbished barn where former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsed him on March 6. Kasich began his speech by thanking his wife, twin 16-year-old daughters, and individual members of his staff by name. He thanked volunteers and praised his colleagues in Ohio. ABC’s BEN GITTLESON, PAOLA CHAVEZ and VERONICA STRACQUALURSI report, at times appeared on the verge of tears as he described how emotional encounters with Americans across the country had changed him.

INSIDE KASICH’S LAST MINUTE DECISION TO DROP OUT OF 2016 RACE. Although John Kasich has been mathematically eliminated from clinching the Republican presidential nomination before the convention since March 15, it took him another month and a half -- until Wednesday -- to decide to suspend his presidential campaign. And, according to sources with knowledge of his thinking, even after the chairman of the party declared that Donald Trump will be the presumptive nominee last night, Kasich’s decision was hastily made. ABC’s BEN GITTLESON and VERONICA STRACQUALURSI report, the Ohio governor stood up several dozen members of the political press corps Wednesday after he cancelled a planned news conference with reporters at a private jet terminal at Dulles International Airport in Virginia, outside Washington.

WHAT THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN IS SAYING ABOUT THE ROAD AHEAD. One day after Donald Trump stepped closer to becoming his party's nominee with a decisive victory in the Indiana primary, his senior advisers told ABC News that the campaign's path to a win in November began Wednesday. Trump's small circle of confidants is expected to begin expanding, yet it does not appear the campaign will broaden its communications team. ABC’s JOHN SANTUCCI, TOM LLAMAS and CANDACE SMITH report, one high-ranking adviser said the campaign will soon begin initial talks about a possible running mate, though a short list does not exist yet. This adviser stressed the candidate must have "significant government experience," and seemed to suggest someone with more time around Washington as opposed to a state leader such as a governor. The aide also suggested it must be someone Trump can have a real relationship with.

NOTED: TRUMP TEASES POSSIBLE VP REQUIREMENTS. Trump is openly speculating about the qualifications he would look for in a vice president. "I think probably I would like to go with somebody with great political experience," Trump told "Good Morning America" Wednesday of his potential pick. ABC’s MEGHAN KENEALLY reports, he doesn't have "a name in mind,” Trump said, but there are certain boxes that will need to be checked. His vice presidential pick would definitely be a Republican and would "most likely" be an elected official, he said.

SANDERS WON INDIANA, NOW WHAT? The Republican primary may be all but over, but across the aisle, voters in Indiana seemed to say the Democratic race should continue. By winning at least 37 additional pledged delegates in Indiana, Hillary Clinton made it mathematically impossible for Sanders to clinch the nomination with pledged delegates alone. So far, Clinton has landed 92 percent of the delegates needed to secure the nomination, meaning the fact that Sanders took the Hoosier state will likely do little to change the eventual outcome of the Democratic race. ABC’s MARYALICE PARKS notes, still, it may be a sign of Clinton’s long road ahead. When asked directly how his win could change the dynamics of the race, Sanders acknowledged late Tuesday night that it was mostly symbolic.

SOME REPUBLICANS TURNING TO CLINTON BECAUSE OF TRUMP. Now that Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, there is growing speculation that the internal rift within his party could send GOP voters rushing toward Hillary Clinton. Laura Finlayson is one such voter. A lifelong Republican, Finlayson said that while some people, including her father, are planning not to vote at all come November, she feels compelled to vote for the Democratic nominee, whomever it is. "I have to vote with who will likely be Hillary because I can't run the risk of living in a country where Donald Trump is president," said Finlayson, who works in public relations. ABC’s MEGHAN KENEALLY and LIZ KREUTZ report, according to a national CNN-ORC poll released Wednesday, just over half of respondents, 51 percent, thought that a vote for Clinton was more of an expression against Trump, while 48 percent said it showed support for Clinton.



BIDEN JOKES HE EXPECTS TO BE TRUMP’S VP PICK. A day after the Republican National Committee announced Donald Trump “will be presumptive GOP nominee,” Vice President Biden let it be known he still doesn't take the business mogul seriously. "I anticipate he'll ask me to be vice president," Biden said, responding to a shouted question at the State Department, Wednesday. ABC’s ALEXANDER MALLIN notes, the room full of Central American heads of delegation laughed and Biden cracked a smile before adding, "I have nothing serious to say."



@BenSasse: The two political parties are like an old married couple arguing about what color to paint the living room--Meanwhile, the house IS ON FIRE.

@micahcohen: OK, everyone, get psyched for the 2016 general election!!! …

@CharlieCookDC: New Cook Political Report Electoral College Ratings …

@danpfeiffer: If Carson was not in charge of picking the person potentially one heartbeat from presidency,this would be hilarious

@maryaliceparks: .@BernieSanders jokes, ask press corp not to tell @benandjerrys he is getting @graeters ice cream in Lexington KY