Signs of Thaw As Republicans See A Different Side of Trump

This was not the usual Donald Trump.

In a meeting with Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) leadership team on Thursday, the typically brash Manhattan billionaire was polite, professional, and even deferential at times.

During two-plus hours of meetings at the Republican National Committee offices, the presumptive GOP nominee did something he doesn’t seem to do very often on the campaign trail: listen. 

“He listened. He asked questions and he listened,” House GOP Conference ChairwomanCathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), one of the participants, told The Hill after the summit.

For the consummate dealmaker, Trump’s trek to Capitol Hill Thursday represented his biggest and boldest venture yet — namely trying to win over support from leaders of the GOP establishment that he’s repeatedly bashed for the past year.

On Thursday, Trump didn’t score the big prize, an endorsement from sometimes-rival Ryan, the nation’s highest-ranking elected Republican. The two men still have disagreements over specific policies, but the Speaker called their conversations “good,” “productive” and “positive,” describing Trump as “warm and genuine.”

And House GOP campaign chief Greg Walden, the only Republican in the Oregon delegation, became the latest member of Ryan’s leadership circle to endorse Trump. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) had signed on earlier. 

“I was very encouraged with what I heard from Donald Trump today,” Ryan told reporters at a news conference after a pair of back-to-back meetings with Trump. “I do believe that we are now planting the seeds to get ourselves unified, to bridge the gaps and differences.”

In the closed-door conversations, Trump asked Ryan and others to share their ideas and concerns. And at times, Trump’s top advisers in the room helped Trump navigate potential pitfalls for a first-time candidate whose comments and policies have alienated Muslims, Hispanics, women and people with disabilities.

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