“It was time,” Donald Trump told a CNN commentator after Thursday’s Republican debate. Time for the unconventional candidate, who has led the GOP presidential field for almost eight months, to finally embrace a front-runner’s traditional role of unifying his party.
Trump began the debate with an opening statement that referenced himself just once, and book-ended his performance with a call for détente in the raucous Republican race. “I just say embrace these millions of people that now for the first time ever love the Republican Party,” Trump said in his closing statement, “and unify. Be smart and unify.” Throughout the debate, the front-runner talked more about the party and the country than ever before.