Raleigh, N.C. — The leaders of the state's Republican and Democratic parties don't agree on much, but they both say having Donald Trump as the GOP presidential nominee will energize their voters in November, albeit in different ways.
Newly state Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes told reporters Wednesday he's glad the GOP primary process appears to be over.
"It’s good news when you have your nominee. We’ve got a good one. We can now focus on the general election and winning in November," Hayes said.
Sen. Ron Rabin, R-Harnett, was the lone state lawmaker to appear with Hayes. Rabin said he's proud to have been an early supporter of Trump.
"I think we the people have spoken loud and clear finally to the folks up under the dome in Washington that we’re tired of not being listened to," Rabin said. "I think that’s what’s caused this tidal wave."
Both Rabin and Hayes conceded it will take some work to bring the party together after the divisive primary battle between Trump and his chief rival, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz – a battle that left some party activists saying they would never vote for Trump.
"As I’ve told people before yesterday, remember that the primary season is one season, general election season is another," Hayes said. "Pay attention. You’re going to like what you hear."
However, Trump's long history of inflammatory comments about women and minorities has some Republicans worried about the effect of his nomination on down-ticket races, especially among women and minority voters.
"The past is past," Hayes responded. "He had said things that I wouldn’t have said. I saw him, last night, begin the clean-up process. I hope it continues."
With so many of Trump's comments recorded on video or social media and heavily reported by the press, state Democratic Party spokesman David Miranda said the rebranding of the Republican front-runner is likely to be difficult.
"We’ve seen him over the course of this debate divide the country, insulting the disabled, African-Americans, Latinos, women repeatedly – any group, name it," Miranda said. "Trump has divided us as a country, and that’s not what we need. We need someone who can bring us together."
Hayes said he wouldn't be surprised if some of Trump's controversial comments show up in political ads against him.
"I’m sure we might see them again. That is an issue and a challenge that they must address. The question is well-stated and timely," Hayes said. "Ask them. I know what I would do, but I’m not running for president."
Current national poll averages show Clinton ahead of Trump. Still, Miranda said, Democrats believe Trump would be a "disastrous" president and will work hard to make sure he doesn't occupy the Oval Office.
"We’re not taking anything for granted. Republicans took Donald Trump for granted, and now he’s the nominee," Miranda said. "We think he is a very serious threat to the country. So, we’re going to work hard for every vote, and we’re hopeful that, if we do the work, we can win here in North Carolina and around the country, up and down the ticket."