WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan met face to face for the first time Thursday as they sought to repair their breach and unify a party torn over Trump’s rise to the cusp of the GOP presidential nomination.
The much-anticipated meeting unfolded Thursday morning as polls suggest Republican voters are getting behind Trump, who effectively clinched the nomination last week. GOP lawmakers are increasingly calling for the party to end its embarrassing bout of infighting and unite to beat likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in November, and many want to see Ryan get on board.
“The meeting was great,” Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, tweeted after. “It was a very positive step toward party unity.” Priebus attended the opening meeting with the two before Trump and Ryan sat down with a small group of GOP House leaders.
Trump entered the RNC building, the venue a few blocks from the Capitol, through a side door as about a dozen protesters who oppose his immigration positions demonstrated at the front, chanting “Down, down with deportation. Up, up with liberation.” They tried to deliver a cardboard coffin to the RNC representing the suffering of immigrants under GOP policies and what they say will be the death of the party under Trump. They were not allowed inside.
Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas walked by and remarked that Trump is “tearing people apart. You can see the circus out here. He’s just bad for the country.”
Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York, a Trump supporter, said it will help both the candidate and the speaker if they can work through their differences.