WASHINGTON Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump shifted focus on Thursday from a bruising primary campaign to the November White House election, announcing his head of fundraising and fleshing out economic policy ideas.
With little of the warm party embrace that is traditionally thrown around a candidate who emerges as the presumptive nominee, Trump turned his attention to the campaign infrastructure and policy details he will need to face off against the likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.
As he moved on after beating 16 rivals in the nominating contests, prominent Republicans grappled with how robustly to support a candidate who eschews the party line on free trade and has upset the establishment with offensive comments about women and immigrants.
Trump, the New York real estate developer, largely used his own money for his primary fight but plans to follow the more typical path of raising money from outside sources for the Nov. 8 election.
He named his campaign finance chief on Thursday - Steven Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs partner who is chief executive of private investment firm Dune Capital Management and who Trump worked with in a business capacity in the past.
Mnuchin has a long history of making political donations, including to Clinton. Since 1998, Mnuchin has given about $71,000 to Democrats, compared to about $37,000 to Republicans. Republicans have questioned Trump's loyalty to the party because he has also donated to Democratic candidates in the past.
Trump, who has frequently boasted during his campaign about his years of "winning" at business, also delved more into how he would seek to boost American businesses, promising lower taxes and fewer regulations.
Trump's remaining rivals in the Republican race dropped out this week, clearing his path to be picked as the presidential nominee at the party's convention in July. Critics have said his campaign has made broad promises around the slogan "Make America Great Again," but delivered very few concrete proposals.
"The business people, they talk about regulation more than they talk about taxes," Trump said in an interview with CNBC. "We're lowering taxes very substantially and we're going to be getting rid of a tremendous amount of regulations."
Deviating from the Republican establishment's support for free trade, Trump has said the United States has entered into bad trade deals that he would renegotiate if elected. On Wednesday, he strayed from the party line again when he said he was "open to doing something" with the country's minimum wage.
But like other Republicans, Trump supports lower taxes and less regulation of business.
He told CNBC on Thursday the United States should try to refinance some of its debt, moving towards longer-term borrowing, which he said could free up money for infrastructure investments. He said he did not want to renegotiate bonds, but he thought it was possible to buy back at a discount.
The U.S. Treasury Department already has shifted its borrowing towards longer-term debt since 2008, locking in historically low interest rates. And the Treasury's advisory panel of bankers and investors last year urged it to study buybacks as a way to improve market liquidity. The Treasury ran a test buyback operation in April.
Trump also said he had concerns about the effects on the economy if interest rates rise. Rising U.S. interest rates usually boost the dollar, which can hurt American exports by making them relatively more expensive for buyers from other countries.
Trump is expected to further flesh out his economic ideas as part of a series of policy speeches. The first one, last week, focussed on foreign policy. He has released a list of foreign policy advisers, but not who gives him input on economic issues.
FUNDRAISING FOR THE PARTY
Trump is also hiring staff to equip his campaign for the months ahead, and making contact with lawmakers. A Republican congressional aide said there had been discussions about Trump visiting Capitol Hill in person soon.
U.S. Representative Renee Ellmers, a Republican from North Carolina who has endorsed Trump, told Reuters the campaign would begin raising money for the party.
"They are going to start understanding and realizing that in order to grow this operation, they will need to grow funds, not only for him and for the campaign to beat Hillary Clinton, but for the Republican Party itself," Ellmers said.
Historically, political parties have depended on their nominees to raise money in order to fund their other operations, including working to elect members of the House and Senate.
One key worry for Republicans has been that their candidates for Congress and other elective positions could suffer with the divisive figure of Trump at the top of the ticket.
U.S. Representative Lou Barletta, a Trump supporter from Pennsylvania, dismissed this concern in an interview with Reuters, saying the mogul had attracted new voters to the party.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu, Megan Cassella, Jason Lange, Ginger Gibson, Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell in Washington; Writing by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Frances Kerry)
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Updated Date: May 06, 2016 01:17 AM