Donald Trump delivered a carrot-and-stick message to Washington on Monday, vowing to unify the Republican Party behind his presidential campaign but also warning GOP leaders not to try to use parliamentary maneuvers to block his nomination later this summer.
The Republican front-runner, after a meeting at a law firm on Capitol Hill with two dozen Republicans, told reporters that his recent conversation with House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., went well and that he took Ryan and other leaders “at face value” about how they will handle running the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July.
“Now they can play games and they can play cute, I can only take him at face value. I understand duplicity. I understand a lot of things. But he called me last week, he could not have been nicer,” Trump said of Ryan, using the same description for a similar discussion he had with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
At a news conference inside the Old Post Office Pavilion, which Trump’s real estate company is rebuilding into a hotel, the mogul also delivered a blunt warning: “If people want to be smart, they should embrace this movement.”
On three occasions in the past three months, Ryan has delivered a rebuke to Trump, over policy positions he has taken or on the tenor of his campaign and supporters.
But the speaker, along with McConnell, has pledged to support whoever the eventual nominee is, even if it is the unconventional Trump. Last week, Ryan told reporters that he had begun to consider reviewing convention rules and procedures because of his role as co-chairman of the convention, which is normally a ceremonial title but could turn into a more critical role if no candidate secures enough delegates to lock down the nomination ahead of Cleveland.
“I notice he’s having meetings. But he called me last week, he couldn’t have been nicer,” Trump said. He then made note of how he has the most delegates so far — “many millions of people behind me” — and that Ryan and other leaders should rally behind his candidacy.
The earlier meeting at Jones Day, the law and lobbying firm where his counsel, Don McGahn, is partner, did not include any congressional Republican leaders. Trump said that the organizer, Sen. Jeff Sessions. R-Ala., set up this initial meeting as a more intimate gathering that would grow to include others in future meetings.
“We’re very inclusive, and frankly Jeff and some of the other people just invited a small group,” he said.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Jenna Johnson, Paul Kane