Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign.
And he celebrated with McDonald’s takeout and Diet Coke on his private plane – after a swipe at his rival Hillary Clinton for being unable to secure the Democratic nomination.
During a press conference Thursday in North Dakota, Trump said he was ‘honored’ by the help he received from a handful of local delegates who gave him a majority.
‘I’m so honored by these people! They had such great sense!’ Trump beamed.
He fielded questions from reporters in front of a group of 20 state lawmakers, most of whom will be delegates to the Republican National Convention.
‘The folks behind me got us right over the top,’ he said.
One, John Trandem, said he was Trump’s 1,238th pledged delegate – the one who put him over the top and cemented the presidential nomination.
Ben Koppelman, a state senator standing behind him, joked that he and Trandem were on the phone accepting their slots in the GOP convention delegation at the same time, so he might have been the clincher
Trump shook hands with Trandem – after crowing that Clinton can’t do the same.
‘Here I am watching Hillary fight, and she can’t close the deal,’ he told reporters. ‘We’ve had tremendous support from almost everybody.’
Trump was in Bismarck to deliver a rally speech at the Bismarck Event Center on the sidelines of the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference, an annual convention of oil and gas magnates.
The Associated Press spoke with Oklahoma GOP chairwoman Pam Pollard, another of the final few delegates who clinched the primary contest for the billionaire real estate executive.
‘I think he has touched a part of our electorate that doesn’t like where our country is,’ Pollard said. ‘I have no problem supporting Mr. Trump.’
It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination for president. Trump has reached 1,238. With 303 delegates at stake in five state primaries on June 7, Trump will easily pad his total, avoiding a contested convention in Cleveland in July.
Trump, a political neophyte who for years delivered caustic commentary on the state of the nation from the sidelines but had never run for office, fought off 16 other Republican contenders in an often ugly primary race.
Many on the right have been slow to warm to Trump, wary of his conservative bona fides. Others worry about Trump’s crass personality and the lewd comments he’s made about women.
But millions of grassroots activists, many who have been outsiders to the political process, have embraced Trump as a plain-speaking populist who is not afraid to offend.
Steve House, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party and an unbound delegate who confirmed his support of Trump to AP, said he likes the billionaire’s background as a businessman.
‘Leadership is leadership,’ House said. ‘If he can surround himself with the political talent, I think he will be fine.’
Others who confirmed their decision to back Trump were more tepid, saying they are supporting him out of a sense of obligation because he won their state’s primary.
Cameron Linton of Pittsburgh said he will back Trump on the first ballot since he won the presidential primary vote in Linton’s congressional district.
‘If there’s a second ballot I won’t vote for Donald Trump,’ Linton said. ‘He’s ridiculous. There’s no other way to say it.’
The delegate who gave Trump his majority was John Trandem , of Fargo, North Dakota.
He wanted to be the delegate who would put Donald Trump over the top, giving him enough delegates to clinch the Republican presidential nomination.
But when he was contacted by an Associated Press reporter, the AP delegate count stood at 1,235 – two delegates short.
‘I’m happy to be No. 1,237,’ said Trandem, a small business owner from North Dakota. ‘But I won’t commit until you’re at 1,236.’
Trandem handed the phone to another delegate, Dakota state Rep. Ben Koppleman, who was riding with him.
After Koppleman confirmed he was committed to Trump, Trandem took the phone back.
‘Are you at 1,236?’ he asked. Yes, he was told. ‘Then I’m the one!’
This article originally appeared on the Daily Mail.