Mr. Trump Goes to Washington: Candidate Makes Nice With Ted Cruz, Not So Nice With the Senate

By Al Perrotta Published on July 7, 2016

Capping off a whirlwind day on Capitol Hill, Donald Trump sat down with primary rival Ted Cruz for their first face-to-face since the end of the fierce and bitter primary campaign. If the two didn’t bury the hatchet, they at least kicked it past election day. During what Cruz called a “positive and productive” meeting, Cruz accepted Trump’s offer to speak at the GOP convention. According to his spokeswoman, “Mr. Trump also asked Sen. Cruz for his counsel on future judicial nominations, and Cruz responded he would do everything he can to help ensure principled constitutionalists on the courts.” A senior Trump campaign official added that the two men agreed to no longer work against each other, and would work together on policy issues where they share common ground. What Ted Cruz didn’t do was endorse Donald Trump, and Cruz says the issue wasn’t discussed.

Earlier, Trump met with about 200 House Republicans. House Speaker Paul Ryan said the meeting was “great” and an “important opportunity for our members to get additional information about Mr. Trump’s campaign and ask questions about the issues that matter to Americans.” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) agreed, telling ABC News it was an “extremely positive” meeting. “If you didn’t know what had gone on before, you would have thought it was a lovefest,” he said.

Trump wasn’t feeling the love on the other side of the Capitol. According to The Washington Post, his sit-down with the Senate included getting raked over the coals by Arizona junior Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) for his comments last year about Sen. John McCain’s captivity in Vietnam. “When he attacks the other senator from Arizona, John McCain, and attacks his war record by saying, ‘I don’t respect people who get captured’ … what an awful, awful thing to say about a war hero, a true war hero.” As the Post tells it, Trump said he has yet to attack Flake hard, but threatened to do so, predicting the senator would lose his race this fall. Flake pointed out that he wasn’t actually running this year. The New York Times  also described the Senate meeting as “tense.”

Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, an ardent member of the #NeverTrump camp, attended as a courtesy and, according to Politico, was told by Trump, “You must want Hillary.” Although Sasse said afterward he was “happy to listen,” his spokesman James Wegmann says he left with his mind unchanged. He said, “Mr. Sasse continues to believe that our country is in a bad place, and, with these two candidates, this election remains a dumpster fire.”

Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was in the meeting, called the negative accounts of the Senate gathering “wholly inaccurate.” He said, “The conversation was very positive and substantive,” he told the Post in a statement. “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.”

As for Trump, he came down Capitol Hill feeling good about the day.

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