Trump, Ryan say they are ‘totally committed’ to uniting their party

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May 12, 2016

WASHINGTON, DC – Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan struck a conciliatory tone after meeting in Washington Thursday, seeking to put behind them a public spat that erupted after Ryan said last week that he is not ready to endorse the business mogul in his bid for the White House.

May 12, 2016

WASHINGTON, DC – Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan struck a conciliatory tone after meeting in Washington Thursday, seeking to put behind them a public spat that erupted after Ryan said last week that he is not ready to endorse the business mogul in his bid for the White House.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives at the Republican National Committee for a meeting with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 12, 2016. REUTERS

“While we were honest about our few differences, we recognize that there are also many important areas of common ground,” Trump and Ryan said in a joint statement. “We will be having additional discussions, but remain confident there’s a great opportunity to unify our party and win this fall, and we are totally committed to working together to achieve that goal.”

Despite the positive tone of the joint statement, it did not say that Ryan now supports Trump as the party’s nominee.

Ryan’s refusal to endorse Trump elevated the stakes of their meeting this morning at Republican National Committee headquarters on Capitol Hill and generated enormous media interest.

Trump’s face-to-face with Ryan was the first of several high-profile sit downs with Republican leaders that come as the campaign seeks to unite the party — and its resources — ahead of a competitive general election.

The summit between Ryan and Trump was cast as an opportunity to soothe tensions between Trump and the GOP establishment at a pivotal moment for a party sharply divided over the likely nominee’s unorthodox and controversial campaign.

The day of meetings began at 9 a.m. when Trump met with Ryan (R-Wis.) and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, after which he met with the full House GOP  leadership team.

Shortly after 10 a.m., Priebus tweeted out that the meeting was “great.”

Trump left the RNC shortly before 11 a.m., waving at reporters from the back seat of his black suburban. He will meet later in the morning with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his top associates.

The streets outside Republican National Committee headquarters assumed a circus-like atmosphere Thursday morning. Dozens of cameras staked out every entrance to the building, satellite trucks lined the nearby streets and passersby gawked at the spectacle.

At one point, a man wearing a portable megaphone and a papier mache Trump head walked down First Street SE carrying a brown paper sack with a dollar sign on it.

“The Donald has spoken, and the GOP is listening!” he shouted as photographers swarmed around him.

As he shook his bags of money and made campaign promises like giving all women free manicures and pedicures, Trump supporter Johnny Rice stood in front of him with a mega-horn and sang religious songs in an attempt to drown out the protester. He then switched to sounding a ram’s horn that he bought on eBay.

“Okay: Believe in spiritual or don’t believe in spiritual, God spoke to me and said that he was raising up Trump to trump the evil government of Obama,” said Rice, 48, who lives in Maryland.

A small group of protesters gathered in front of the RNC, several carrying yellow and black signs reading: “GOP + Trump, Dangerous, Divisive, Deceitful.” Immigration activists took turns on a bullhorn, sharing their personal stories and leading the group in chants. “Undocumented, unafraid” and “No papers, no fear,” they chanted.

Two activists from Code Pink held pink signs reading “Islamophobia is UnAmerican” and “Trump is a racist.” The group held up a red cardboard coffin that they said represented the death of the Republican Party and “all of the injustice” it has directed at minorities.

The Ryan and Trump camps engaged in a war of words last week after the speaker declared that he was “just not ready” to support Trump as the party nominee. Trump responded in a statement that he was not ready “to support Speaker Ryan’s agenda.” The comments highlighted the rifts that Trump will need to overcome in coming weeks as he seeks to unify the party.

Trump and Ryan sought to distance themselves from their hostile exchange ahead of their sit down Thursday. Trump said Wednesday night that the purpose of the meeting with Ryan is “unity,” striking a conciliatory tone after the public spat and adding that the two are looking to get to know each other.

“Paul is a good person. I don’t know Paul well. And I think that’s part of the meeting,” Trump said Wednesday evening on Fox News. “And I think we want to get to know each other. I think we want to see if we have the same ideas because I represent a large group of people with very strong ideas and foundations. And I think we want to see a little bit about that.”

Ryan also struck a friendly tone ahead of the meeting, telling reporters he was eager to develop a relationship with Trump.

“We just need to get to know each other. And we as a leadership team are enjoying that we have a chance to meet with him,” Ryan said Wednesday. “This is a big-tent party. There’s plenty of room for different policy disputes in this party. We come from different wings of the party. The goal here is to unify the various wings of the party around common principles so that we can go forward unified.”

But tensions within the party over Trump have only worsened in the week since he effectively clinched the nomination following the departures of rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich. Former GOP nominee Mitt Romney, members of the Bush family and other top Republicans have declined to endorse Trump publicly. Romney, who ran in 2012 with Ryan as his running mate, blasted Trump on Wednesday for suggesting he would not release his tax returns until after the election.

The real estate mogul will need party resources behind his White House run if he hopes to run a competitive bid against likely Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

The Trump campaign is finalizing plans with the RNC to set up a joint fundraising committee — a “victory fund” — to solicit donations far larger in magnitude than what the campaign itself is legally allowed to accept. The additional funds are routed to the party’s war chest then used to finance national get-out-the-vote operations.


Courtesy: Washington Post