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Trump wins enough delegates to clinch nomination
[NEW YORK] Donald Trump on Thursday secured the support of enough delegates to clinch the Republican presidential nomination, after unbound delegates pledged to back the billionaire, according to US media counts.
Mr Trump now has the backing of 1,238 delegates, one more than the 1,237 needed, according to the US news agency the Associated Press which first reported Mr Trump crossing the threshold.
It said the real estate tycoon's delegate count rose when a small number of unbound Republican delegates, including Oklahoma party chairwoman Pam Pollard, said they would support him at the convention.
The Republican Party will not make the results official until its national convention in July, when delegates actually cast their votes for the nominee.
The party does not provide an official delegate count throughout the primary race, leading several US news organizations to compile their own estimates.
There are slight discrepancies between different counts because in some states delegates are free to vote for the candidate of their choice, unbound by the primary results.
ABC News reported that Mr Trump has now secured 1,239 delegates, based on its own analysis, while CNN lifted its Trump delegate estimate to 1,237 Thursday, citing unbound delegates who said they would back the billionaire.
Mr Trump was already the Republican presumptive nominee, capping a spectacular and unlikely campaign for the White House that has thoroughly upended American politics.
He was assured of reaching the magic number of 1,237 at the latest on June 7, when California and four other states vote on the final day of the Republican primary race.
Mr Trump, who was to deliver a speech on energy later Thursday in Bismark, North Dakota, bested 16 Republican rivals in the race, the final two dropping out this month after he won Indiana.
But turmoil continues to dog his campaign, while Republicans grapple with the political priorities of their party.
Mr Trump's likely Democratic rival in the general election, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, is set to lock in the nomination following the June 7 primaries.
The provocative Republican has struggled to win the support of key figures in his party establishment, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, who have voiced concern about the presumptive nominee's tone and his lack of policy specifics.
Mr Ryan, the nation's top elected Republican, has declined to endorse Mr Trump yet. They met two weeks ago to discuss ways to unify the party behind his remarkable White House run. But on Thursday Mr Ryan again stressed he wanted to see more unity behind the candidate.
"What I'm most concerned about is making sure that we actually have real party unity, not pretend party unity," Mr Ryan told reporters in Washington.
Speaking in Japan, US President Barack Obama launched a broadside against Mr Trump, telling reporters that world leaders are "rattled" by some of Trump's policies and blasting his "ignorance" of how the world works.
The former reality TV star has dominated headlines since launching his presidential campaign last year with a mix of incendiary comments and policy stances seen as insulting Mexicans, Muslims and women among others.
He has proposed building a giant wall along the US border with Mexico to keep out illegal immigrants, and called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.
Mr Trump has also raised eyebrows by continuing to attack members of his own party. On Tuesday he assailed popular New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez - someone who could help him win over both Hispanics and women - saying she was not doing a good job as governor.
And the business mogul has shown his national political director Rick Wiley the door just six weeks after hiring him.
Mr Wiley, who ran Wisconsin Governor Scott Walkers's ill-fated presidential campaign, "was hired on a short-term basis as a consultant until the campaign was running full steam," Mr Trump's campaign said in a statement Wednesday.