RNC Leaders Push Top Republicans Toward Accepting Eventual Nominee

The GOP is calling on top members to support its nominee -- no matter who it is.

ByABC News
April 22, 2016, 12:53 PM

HOLLYWOOD, Florida -- The last time top Republicans huddled for their quarterly meeting, the presidential field was still overcrowded and delegate scoreboard was tied at zero.

But now, with Donald Trump closing in on the party's nomination, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and Co-Chair Sharon Day are pushing top GOP officials toward acceptance here in Florida, where top Republicans have gathered for their spring meeting.

“Now I know in this room, some of us did not get our first choice of candidate,” said Day. “We may not have even gotten our second or third choice for that matter.”

“I know our candidates are going to say some things to attract attention. That’s part of politics," Priebus said. "But we all need to get behind the nominee."

The comments come as the Republican National Committee braces for the logistics of a potential contested convention, while front-runner Trump bashes the delegate process as "unfair" and "rigged" and some establishment figures remain reluctant to back Sen. Ted Cruz.

At times, the speeches took a conciliatory tone, naming concerns of any leaders in the room who may be waffling on backing the nominee.

“Along the way, there have been days when we have heard and seen things our candidates and their supporters have said that have made us cringe a little,” Day said, adding it may seem like the RNC is being “misrepresented and criticized.”

“I know these things have been hurtful,” she said.

Still, Priebus did not let Trump escape unscathed, jabbing him over his decrying of the delegate allocation process.

"Our candidates have a special opportunity to show leadership on this front," Priebus said. "They’re trying out for our team. No one is forcing them to wear our jersey.

“The rules say you have to have 1,237 delegates to be the nominee. We aren’t going to hand the nomination to anyone with a plurality, no matter how close they are to 1,237,” he said, calling the threshold “one of the bedrock values of American government.

“The rules for how we choose a nominee have been transparent and effective for decades and this year is no different," he continued.

Priebus also spoke of the contested convention in 1860, where Abraham Lincoln emerged the nominee. “They had their differences, to be sure. But even though all four [candidates] often disagreed with each other, they didn’t just take their marbles and go home,” he said.

"It is essential to victory in November that we all support our candidate," Priebus said. "This goes for everyone, whether you’re a county party chairman, an RNC member, or a presidential candidate."