Trump meets with more than 200 House Republicans
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Donald Trump is meeting with more than 200 House Republicans Thursday as he seeks to unite the party at a time when his campaign is again clouded by controversy.
The meeting offers the presumptive Republican nominee an opportunity to reassure nervous members of the party who worry that his freewheeling style — on display Wednesday night during a speech in Cincinnati in which he reignited a controversy over a tweet some have said is anti-Semitic — may turn off voters.
Rep. Cresent Hardy of Nevada, who is not going to the Republican National Convention later this month and has not endorsed Trump, asked one of the first questions inside the meeting. He told Trump he was worried about his ability to appeal to the broader electorate during the general election.
Hardy said that he represents a district with a large Hispanic, Asian and African-American populations that may be one of the most diverse GOP districts in the country and noted that he is now running against a Latino opponent who is using Trump’s comments as a wedge issue.
His question, he said, was whether Trump can run a general election campaign that can win over diverse voters without “further offending them” along the way.
Rep. Charlie Dent, a moderate Republican from Pennsylvania, said Trump spoke in a “little bit more measured” tones during the meeting.
An aide to House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers said the meeting was “a productive opportunity for Mr. Trump and House Republicans to unify around their shared goal for November: bringing new leadership to the White House and doing all we can to defeat Hillary Clinton.”
The aide said Trump answered questions for more than 40 minutes from around 20 lawmakers “on a wide-range of topics.”
The gathering comes as many Republicans on Capitol Hill are unifying around a strategy to combat presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by keeping her email scandal alive to exacerbate voter concerns about her trustworthiness. Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will grill FBI Director James Comey during a hearing later Thursday, just two days after he recommended the Justice Department not press charges against Clinton.
Though he didn’t recommend charges, many Republicans believed they’d been handed a gift this week with Comey’s denunciation of Clinton’s carelessness in her email practices as secretary of state.
But Trump went off message when he took the stage in Cincinnati Wednesday night as he could not resist defending himself from the slights of the “lying,” “dishonest” media.
He turned the spotlight back to the uproar over his anti-Clinton Twitter post that had featured what many perceived as a an image of a Star of David stamped next to an image of Clinton over a pile of cash.
“It’s a star, it looks like a sheriff’s star,” he said indignantly Wednesday night in Ohio, castigating those who described the shape as anti-Semitic.
To amplify his argument, he noted that his son draws all kinds of stars when he gets home from school and tweeted a photo of a children’s sticker book from the Disney movie “Frozen” that featured a star of the same six-pointed shape.
“Where is the outrage for this Disney book? Is this the ‘Star of David’ also?” Trump tweeted next to the image of Disney princesses Elsa and Anna. “Dishonest media! #Frozen.”