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Peter Kalikow: GOP should close ranks behind Donald Trump

Peter Kalikow, who originally backed Ohio Gov. John

Peter Kalikow, who originally backed Ohio Gov. John Kasich's presidential run, says it's time for Republicans to close ranks behind Donald Trump's candidacy. Photo Credit: Newsday / Julia Gaines

Peter Kalikow not only endorsed John Kasich to be the Republican presidential nominee, but also raised a lot of money for the Ohio governor.

But now Kalikow, who on Wednesday is set to be nominated as one of New York’s “at-large” delegates to the Republican National Convention, says it’s time for the Republican elite to close ranks behind Donald Trump, the party’s presumptive nominee.

It should drop the talk of changing the GOP convention rules or backing a third-party candidate, said the developer and former publisher of the New York Post.

“I don’t know why they’re so mad at him,” Kalikow told Newsday, a day before New York Republicans meet in Albany to organize their convention delegation. “We should embrace him. I’m a little astounded how some my fellow Republicans just can’t say: The race is over. Trump clearly won. Let’s get behind him.”

Kalikow, who has worked with Trump and competed against him in the New York real estate world, said Trump is a good negotiator, a “quick study” and someone who knows how to get his point across. And, he added, for a guy “as big and as rich” as Trump, “he’s better at taking advice than others.”

Even though Trump is the presumptive GOP nominee, some “Never Trump” activists are still pushing to either disrupt the Republican convention in Cleveland in July or find someone to run as third-party candidate.

Just last week, news outlets reported that Mitt Romney — the party’s 2012 nominee and an outspoken Trump critic — unsuccessfully tried to recruit Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) to run as an independent. Further, outlets reported that The Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol is among those polling and reaching out to donors who oppose Trump. Even if those efforts fail, some elected Republicans say there’s no way they will support the brash developer.

“It’s an unrecoverable relationship. Let me put it that way,” Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.), one of the original “Never Trump” members of Congress, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel just after the Wisconsin GOP convention Saturday.

Kalikow said that talk could not only hurt the party’s chances of winning the White House, but also races all the way down the local level.

“We’re going to have a problem down ballot, in many Senate and House races . . . if we don’t support the guy who is the main candidate,” Kalikow said.

Kalikow donated to money to a super PAC that backed Kasich. He said he disagreed with Trump on a number of issues — especially immigration, deportation of immigrants who are in the country illegally and Trump’s characterization of Mexican immigrants as “criminals” and “rapists.”

But he said he agrees with Trump on many issues and said he was the only candidate who could persuade “Reagan Democrats” to support the GOP.

Kalikow, who has known Trump for 40 years, noted they worked together on an unsuccessful bid in the 1990s to acquire the old New York Coliseum, a convention center that stood at Columbus Circle in Manhattan. He said he was surprised the race for the GOP nomination turned out this way.

“I had no idea he was going to do this well,” Kalikow said of Trump. “I didn’t think he’d fail badly because he’s pretty resourceful. But if you asked me if I thought he was going to be the standard-bearer, I would have said no.”

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