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Donald Trump sends mixed message on West Virginia voting

Donald Trump is so confident about his lock on the Republican presidential nomination that he's started telling voters to stay home during primary election days.

"What I want you to do is save your vote," Trump told supporters Thursday night in West Virginia, a state that holds its primary next week. "You know, you don't have to vote anymore. Save your vote for the general election, okay? Forget this one, the primary is gone."

"I usually say, 'You're going to leave here, go home and say the country started winning, you're going to go out and vote.' I don't have to say that anymore," said Trump, who hasn't yet reached the requisite 1,237 delegates to lock down the Republican nomination. "In November, you're going to go out and vote. That's going to be the greatest vote you'll ever cast, okay? The vote was supposed to be on Tuesday, but now I can say stay home, but get twice as many people in November, right?"

Trump's Twitter feed, however, urged a different course of action.

Just hours after his Charleston, West Virginia rally, Trump tweeted this reminder to his followers:


After rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich exited the primary race earlier this week, Trump became the party's presumptive nominee. But the New York businessman still has some 180 delegates to earn -- and several more skeptical Republican party leaders to win over -- before he gets the full backing of the GOP.

On Thursday, Paul Ryan said he was "not there yet" when it came to supporting Trump's presidential bid, emphasizing the work still left for the billionaire before bringing the party together.

"Saying we're unified doesn't in and of itself unify us," Ryan said. "I think he has to do more to unify this party."

Encouraging voting in local contests -- among other moves -- could be key to Trump's courting of the GOP establishment.

And, as one West Virginia Republican party official pointed out to the Washington Post, there are still several down-ballot races that will be decided with Tuesday's election.

"We're hoping for a very large Republican turnout on Tuesday," state party chairman Conrad Lucas told the Post late Thursday night. "High Republican turnout is essential for our judicial races and to send a message where West Virginia stands. Like Mr. Trump tweeted -- go vote on Tuesday."