Trump’s a big underdog — for now

With the nomination in hand, Donald Trump faces a steep climb to overtake Hillary Clinton in the general election. A new CNN/ORC poll puts Clinton on top by 54% to 41%. The 13-point lead is her largest since last July.

But there are six long months until Election Day, and these have been humbling times for those in the political forecasting business, who were once absolutely certain that Trump’s candidacy would go nowhere. (Politico revisited “the 9 worst predictions about Trump’s rise to the top.”)

As it turned out, Trump displayed more appeal to divergent categories of Republican primary voters — by age, education, religion and ideology — than any of his rivals, noted veteran political writer Ronald Brownstein in The Atlantic.

In a general election, negative views of Trump among Latinos and women, among others, are huge hurdles. Still, Clinton’s unfavorable ratings, while not as high as Trump’s, have been a stubborn problem for her.

The CNN/ORC poll found a slight majority of the Democrat’s supporters said their choice was more anti-Trump than pro-Clinton. There was a similar anti-Clinton tilt to the motivation of Trump backers.

Trump got higher marks than Clinton — 50% to 45% — as the president who would best handle the economy, but she is preferred on the issues of terrorism, immigration, health care, the income gap, foreign policy, education and climate change.

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Clinton: I’ve figured him out

Clinton called Trump “a loose cannon” in a CNN interview and said that she won’t make the same mistakes as Trump’s GOP rivals.

“They didn’t know how to counterpunch,” Clinton said.

“This is to me a classic case of a blustering, bullying guy who — who has knocked out of the way all of the Republicans because they were just dumbfounded,” she said. “They didn’t know how to deal with him and they couldn’t take him on on the issues, and they basically agreed [with him].”

For video highlights, click here.

What’s the ticket?

Trump says he’s looking for someone with legislative chops to be his running mate, reports Newsday’s Emily Ngo.

“I probably will go the political route,” he said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” He wants “somebody that can help me get things passed, and somebody that’s been friends with the senators and the congressmen.”

Clinton, who hasn’t quite sewn up her nomination, might tailor her vice presidential choice to win over voters who have rallied behind Bernie Sanders, experts said.

The take-away: What Bernie wants

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Sanders doesn’t care to be a tool of Trump, who has found much to like, and quote, from the Vermont senator’s attacks on Clinton, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.

But Sanders is not done with Clinton, and there are a number of ways he can leverage his strong following — not just at the Democratic convention, but during a prospective Clinton administration.

President Trump’s first 100 days

Trump sketched out his vision for The New York Times on how he’d start out as the 45th president.

By the end of his first 100 days, the wall with Mexico to deter illegal immigrants would be designed, Muslim immigrants would be banned and plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act would be underway.

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“Things will be fine,” he said. “I’m not running for president to make things unstable for the country.”

Homeland Secretary Giuliani?

Donald Trump said in an interview with Bill O’Reilly on Fox News that he would consider naming former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani secretary of homeland security, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie attorney general and Dr. Ben Carson secretary of health and human services.

Giuliani voted for Trump, but also accused him of “exaggerating” last fall when he claimed thousands of Muslims in the metropolitan area celebrated in the hours after the 9/11 attacks. If he couldn’t produce video evidence, Giuliani said then, “it’s going to make him look really bad.”

King, Zeldin on Trump train

Long Island’s Republican congressmen, Peter King and Lee Zeldin, endorsed Trump Wednesday, though both also indicated they held some lingering reservations about him, Newsday’s Tom Brune reports.

King said he would like to help Trump “fill in the gaps to make his defense and security policies more cohesive and coherent.” As for Zeldin, “Even though I don’t agree with Donald Trump on everything ... he is a better candidate by far than Hillary Clinton.”

To some, #neverTrump means never

Some of the biggest Republican names are planning to sit out the election rather than endorse Trump, and that includes the two living former GOP presidents — George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush.

Several more Capitol Hill Republicans fell in line behind the nominee. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell staked out a  #tepidlyTrump stance with an endorsement that all but screamed its unease.

And New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, part of McConnell's GOP caucus, says she'll support Trump but won't endorse him -- whatever that means.

Not all have budged. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) said he won’t support Trump because of “things that he’s said about women and the Hispanic community.” Mike Fernandez, a billionaire who backed Jeb Bush, told the Miami Herald that Clinton is “the lesser of two evils.”

The wait-and-see camp includes Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who said Trump is “going to have stop with gratuitous personal insults.”

Lump it, Trump tells GOP foes

The presumptive Republican nominee, who preached unity in his Tuesday night victory speech, said on “Morning Joe” that he doesn’t care if some Republicans fail to fall in line behind him.

“I don’t think it’s imperative that the entire party come together,” Trump said. “I don’t want everybody. I don’t even want certain people who were extraordinarily nasty. Let them wait eight years. Or let them wait 16 years or whatever.”

And just beating Clinton may not be enough for him. “She should suffer like other people have suffered who have done far less than she has,” Trump said.

Kasich closed

John Kasich, the Ohio governor, became the last of Trump’s opponents to quit Wednesday. Like Ted Cruz the night before, he did not mention Trump’s name.

Kasich said his optimistic message — that “the spirit, the essence of America lies in the hearts and souls of us” — didn’t resonate. “It wasn’t sexy, it wasn’t a great sound bite.”

New in Clinton’s inbox

The trouble over the former secretary of state’s emails bubbled up again Wednesday. A federal judge said he may order Clinton to testify under oath about whether she used a private email server as secretary of state to evade public records disclosures.

U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan also granted a request from the conservative legal advocacy group Judicial Watch to question six current and former State Department staffers, including close Clinton aides, about the email system.

Still outstanding, with no clear end date, is the FBI investigation.

What else is happening:

  • Trump’s stump-speech boast about self-funding his campaign needs a rewrite. He told The Wall Street Journal (pay site) that for the general election, he will raise outside money ...
  • Sanders, still running in the race, is in let-me-at-’im mode, tweeting, “There is nothing I would like more than to take on and defeat Donald Trump” ...
  • Long Island hedge fund executive Robert Mercer, who backed Cruz, will keep spending money this election cycle on as-yet-to-be-determined candidates for office, his super PAC’s spokeswoman told Newsday’s Brune ...
  • The conservative website RedState, seeing Trump’s chances as zero, wants Senate Republicans to confirm President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, and not wait for Clinton to choose someone “radically more leftist and 10-15 years younger” ...
  • In a morning ABC interview, Trump said the National Enquirer has “brought many, many things to light,” but in the afternoon he told CNN, “Of course I don’t think” Ted Cruz’s dad was involved in President John F. Kennedy’s assassination ...
  • Trump told an Orthodox Jewish publication: “I don’t get why the Jewish community supports Obama, or why they like Hillary.” A Siena poll found Clinton leading Trump 62% to 23% among New York Jewish voters ...
  • British Prime Minister David Cameron has “no intention” of apologizing to Trump for calling his proposed ban on Muslims entering the U.S. “divisive, stupid and wrong.”
  • WFAN's Mike Francesa, a longtime sports talker, is waving the pom-poms for Trump.
  • The Rolling Stones want Trump to stop playing their song “Start Me Up” at campaign events ...
  • Sen. John McCain says he may be in "the race of my life" for re-election with Trump atop the ticket and Arizona's Hispanic voters angry.