Trump Still Lacks Strong Support From Republicans In Washington

Jul 7, 2016
Originally published on July 7, 2016 7:50 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

While Donald Trump is about to accept the nomination of the Republican Party for president, he still doesn't have a lot of strong support from Republicans here in Washington. Today, Trump is in the nation's capital, meeting with members of the House and Senate. NPR's Sarah McCammon has been following the Trump train around town. She's on the line. And Sarah, where are you now?

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: So I'm on Capitol Hill, outside a building where Donald Trump has been meeting with House Republicans. I'm told that pretty much all Republican members of Congress were invited to meet with him. We've seen some members go in and out. And he's going to be meeting, as well, with Senate leaders this morning, too.

GREENE: So this is your day, following him around the Capitol and seeing whatever you can learn from these meetings.

MCCAMMON: Yep. It's a lot of staking out these buildings, watching, you know, sort of the motions of the police and the Secret Service trying to get, you know, a glimpse of Donald Trump. We did see him coming into the House Republican meeting, waving from his motorcade at the press, get out and go in the building.

My colleague Brakkton Booker was on the other side of the building talking to some of the House Republicans as they came out. And we heard that he got a pretty positive reception.

GREENE: And is that what he's looking for? Is that what this day is about - to try and hear some positive things from some previously resistant Republicans?

MCCAMMON: Yeah, it sure seems that way. I mean, the campaign has been pretty mum about the purpose of the meeting and has basically just said it's a private meeting. And that's about it.

But, you know, putting two and two together, reading the tea leaves - obviously, you know, Trump was here on Capitol Hill at this same spot in May meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republican leaders from both the House and Senate in sort of a bid to rally the troops, in a way, and gain their support. He got Paul Ryan's endorsement.

But he's had a series of missteps and has not really been able to stay on message. That's worried many Republicans about his campaign going forward. So one thing we were told by one member who came out is that party unity was on the table today. That was part of the discussion - is how to unify the Republican Party.

GREENE: And Sarah, I mean, this seems to be a week when the Republican Party, in terms of the election, could be unified. I mean, Hillary Clinton got a lot of criticism from the director of the FBI, who said that she was careless in handling classified emails. I gather the party might be looking to Trump to be disciplined, on message, and sort of lead them.

MCCAMMON: Yeah. I mean, in a way, the FBI, while they did not recommend charges against Hillary Clinton, gave Republicans a gift this week by calling out her handling of classified information. That's something that Republican leaders really want Trump to be focusing on.

And, you know, David he seemed like he started to do that during a rally in Cincinnati last night. He started talking about Hillary Clinton but he quickly sort of veered off message and started talking about golf and his kids and said he regretted that his campaign had taken down a tweet that showed a six-pointed star that - which a lot of people had called anti-Semitic.

So, you know, I'm sure that's something, most likely, if you were a fly on the wall, that would be coming up in these meetings is - how is he going to carry the message forward for the Republican Party?

GREENE: OK. Our colleague Sarah McCammon being as much of a fly on the wall as she possibly can as she follows Donald Trump around Washington today. Sarah, thanks a lot.

MCCAMMON: Thank you, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.