Trump’s attempt for Republican unity failed

WASHINGTON - Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, made a trip to Capitol Hill on Thursday to unify his splintered party, but reportedly failed. In his first meeting with House Republicans, Donald Trump on Thursday sought to do damage control, blasting the "disingenuous" media for reporting that he praised former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein at a rally this week, according to reports in news media.

"I said, 'Hussein was a very, very bad man, but the one thing he did very well was kill terrorists,'" Trump told a standing room only crowd of House Republicans at the Capitol Hill Club. "The next day I wake up to headlines that say 'Trump praises Hussein.' The media is totally disingenuous," Trump said at the closed-door meeting. Trump is seeking to unify a Republican Party less than two weeks before its nominating convention in Cleveland.

The Washington Post reported that Illinois Republican SeNator Mark Kirk skipped Trump’s Capitol Hill huddle, and that Trump called him a “loser” in the closed-door meeting. The billionaire businessman also predicted that Kirk will lose his re-election bid, but that Trump, himself, will win Illinois—a state which hasn’t voted for the Republican nominee since 1988.

Kirk told reporters, flatly, that he thinks Trump is wrong. “I’ve never been defeated in Illinois,” he said.

Kirk wasn’t the only Senate Republican to tussle with Trump. SeNator Jeff Flake, of Arizona, confronted him in the meeting, according to the Post, criticising him for belittling Sen. John McCain’s time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Next on Trump’s “to alienate” list: SeNator Ben Sasse for criticism.

Sasse is a dogged, long-time opponent of Trump, and called him a “megalomaniac strongman” on the Senate floor last December. He left the meeting long before his fellow Republican colleagues did, and was blank-faced and silent as reporters swarmed him with questions.

Later, his spokesman released a statement saying the 2016 contest “remains a dumpster fire. Nothing has changed.”

Trump’s courtship of House Republicans didn’t seem to generate that level of fireworks. But it also wasn’t a lovefest.

Congressman Adam Kinzinger, who backed Jeb Bush and then Marco Rubio in the primary, told reporters that Trump’s overtures left him unmoved.

“It was a lot of stream-of-consciousness again,” he said of Trump'sremarks, “like what you’d hear at the rallies but with less cheering.”

And Congressman Charlie Dent, a Republican from a swing district in Pennsylvania, also told reporters that when a member asked Trump how he would reach out to Hispanic voters, he gave an answer we’ve all heard before.

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