Donald Trump congratulated the candidate he had belittled as “Little Marco,” railed against “disgusting reporters” and negative ads and promised America it would “start winning again” as he took a victory lap before hundreds of supporters at a massive ballroom at his Palm Beach county estate.
Trump, who took the stage after Marco Rubio ended his campaign, urged the party — much of which has resisted his candidacy — to coalesce around his campaign.
“We have to bring our party together,” he said, noting he’d spoken Tuesday with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “We have something that actually makes the Republican Party probably the biggest political story in the world.”
He touted what he said were long lines at the voting booth and said his candidacy was drawing Democrats, independents and those who haven’t voted before.
“It’s an incredible thing,” he said.
Winning Florida, his second home, “by that kind of number is incredible,” he said.
He offered congratulations to Rubio, saying he had waged a “really tough campaign” and has “a great future.”
The Republican front-runner delivered what has become his customary election night victory lap from a sprawling ballroom at his Mar-A-Lago Club estate in Palm Beach.
The crowd roared as he talked, laughing when he assailed what he said was an unprecedented barrage of “vicious, horrible,” negative advertising — “mostly false, I won't say 100 percent, but maybe 90 percent.”
And they cheered as he noted that despite the ads, “my numbers went up.”
The massive Donald J. Trump Grand Ballroom – it holds 17 chandeliers — began filling up with hundreds of Trump supporters, friends and club members shortly after 8 p.m. Many wore their Palm Beach finest: women in cocktail dresses and high heels; men in suits, several with ascots and white dress shoes. Several attendees toted swimming pool “noodles” bearing the Trump campaign logo.
The room took on a festive tone as the crowd mingled up near the stage, barely listening as Rubio dropped out, and then as Hillary Clinton and then John Kasich declared victories via several televisions near the stage.
George Lombardi, who has known Trump for 30 years and has homes at Trump Tower and in Palm Beach, said he was proud to be part of Trump’s “movement.
“It's time for some fresh air everywhere, and especially in Washington, D.C.,” Lombardi said, wearing a Trump and an “I voted” sticker on his suit jacket.
He brushed off Kasich’s victory in Ohio, saying it would only give Trump “a little more time to take care of Cruz.”