Billionaire businessman and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was on Capitol Hill Thursday to meet with GOP lawmakers in a bid to firm up support for his campaign and strengthen party unity.
Unfortunately for Trump, there are still a few senators that don’t see eye to eye with him, and words were exchanged during an at-times tense closed-door meeting, according to The Washington Post.
One of those senators was Jeff Flake of Arizona, who has been highly critical of Trump’s purportedly racist stance against illegal immigration, which Trump reportedly noted.
“Yes, I’m the other senator from Arizona — the one who didn’t get captured — and I want to talk to you about statements like that,” Flake replied, referring to Trump’s remarks early in the campaign season about Sen. John McCain.
Trump responded by noting that he hadn’t even really attacked Flake hard, yet, but would do so if necessary.
He also reportedly had words for Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk, who had withdrawn his endorsement of Trump following his purportedly racist comments about the judge overseeing the Trump University lawsuit. Trump predicted he could win the typically blue state without the senator’s support.
Kirk responded later by telling Associated Press, “We haven’t seen a personality like his too much in the Midwest. Eastern, privileged, wealthy bully. Our bullies are made of better stuff in Illinois.”
Trump also spoke with Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, one of the more outspoken remnants of the #NeverTrump movement. Sasse’s spokesman stated afterwards that despite a gracious meeting between the two, nothing had changed, and, “(T)his election remains a dumpster fire.”
Lest one think the meeting was all bad, Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford thought otherwise: “It seemed blunt but it wasn’t tense … Trump’s comment at the end didn’t come across as a threat. It was, ‘I’m gaining popularity in your state and get on board because if you’re fighting against me, the people in your state support me.'”
Campaign chair Paul Manafort had a similar take in a statement to The Post: “Today’s meeting was positive and productive and these characterizations, attributed to unnamed sources, are wholly inaccurate. The conversation was very positive and substantive.”
“The Members were in total agreement with Mr. Trump of the need to unite the party and work together to win the presidency and keep a Republican Congress,” Manafort continued. “Mr. Trump was pleased with the discussion and looks forward to working together with the Republican Party leadership toward defeating Hillary Clinton in November.”
A few noted stragglers aside, Trump has made gains in rallying and uniting the GOP around his candidacy, though work still needs to be done.
Hopefully, these last few holdouts will realize that, for whatever disagreements they may have with Trump, he remains the better option by far when compared with the manifestly corrupt and dishonest presumptive Democrat nominee, Hillary Clinton.