WASHINGTON -- Although he is leading the Republican primary race by a wide margin, casino mogul Donald Trump is still far from winning the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the party's uncontested nomination.
Trump warned Wednesday morning that there would be widespread unrest if he does not "automatically" get the nomination as the candidate with the greatest number of delegates.
"I think you would have riots," Trump said during an interview with CNN, adding that he represents "many, many millions of people," including several first-time voters.
Party operatives hoping to stop Trump have looked to the possibility of a brokered convention, which could block his path to becoming the nominee should he only win a plurality of delegates.
Trump said such a scenario would outrage his supporters, who have shown increasing willingness to use violence against their political detractors.
"If you disenfranchise those people, and you say, 'Well, I’m sorry, but you’re 100 votes short, even though the next one is 500 votes short,' I think you would have problems like you’ve never seen before. I think bad things would happen," Trump continued. "I wouldn’t lead it, but I think bad things would happen."
Over the past several weeks, journalists covering Trump's campaign and people protesting at his rallies have been manhandled, punched, threatened and physically removed from events. The candidate said he would consider paying the legal fees for a supporter who was charged with assault for punching an anti-Trump protester in the face.
When the threat of violence against protesters at a campaign rally in Chicago forced Trump to cancel the event last week, he blamed the protesters and threatened to send his supporters to rallies for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) -- which could be read as an implicit threat that his fans would harm Sanders’ supporters.
Even as he boasts about his wide lead in the presidential primary, Trump seems acutely aware that he is still in danger of not getting a majority of delegates. During last week’s debate, he called 1,237 an "artificial" and "very random number" and said whoever has the most delegates at the end of the primaries should be the nominee. (In fact, it is not random at all, as it is the majority of the 2,472 available delegates.)
In an article weighing the fairness of the majority requirement in the primary races, Sean Trende aptly explained the downside of allowing a candidate to win by a plurality instead. "It is possible for a candidate who is loathed by a majority to win the post if the other voters don’t vote strategically," he wrote.
With Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) out of the race as of Tuesday night, it’s possible the party will unite behind Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) or Ohio Gov. John Kasich to block Trump from becoming the uncontested nominee -- but at this stage in the race, it’s unlikely either candidate could overtake him as the front-runner.
Editor's note: Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist, birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S.