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Trump Has 'Very Nice Meeting' With RNC's Reince Priebus

Image: Trump Has 'Very Nice Meeting' With RNC's Reince Priebus
Donald Trump and Reince Priebus (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 31 Mar 2016 09:10 PM

Donald Trump held a "unity meeting with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Thursday, in light of his declaration Tuesday that he would not honor a pledge he signed last year to support the party's eventual nominee.

In an interview with Eric Bolling on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor," Trump described the session as "a very good meeting. Actually a terrific meeting, I think. It's really a unity meeting.

"I think they wanted it to really discuss unity — and I like discussing unity, too."

Immediately after the meeting, Trump posted on Twitter:
Priebus said the meeting was scheduled days ago and included a discussion about the process heading into the party's July convention in Cleveland.

Trump leads the Republican race, but is at risk of falling short of the 1,237 delegates needed to become the party's nominee in the Nov. 8 election, raising the prospect of a contested convention.

"We did talk about unity and working together and making sure when we go to Cleveland, and come out of Cleveland, that we're working in the same direction," Priebus told the Fox News Channel.

Trump's relationship with the RNC has been contentious at times, and he recently complained the party was not treating him fairly as it prepared for a possible contested convention.

On Tuesday, Trump backed away from the loyalty pledge he signed in September promising to support the party's eventual nominee and not to run an independent campaign for the White House.

The RNC pledge has unraveled as Trump's remaining rivals, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Governor John Kasich, also indicated they were unlikely to observe the pledge if Trump was the nominee.

Priebus refused to say if the discarded loyalty pledge was discussed at the meeting with Trump, which lasted just under an hour.

According to a person who attended the meeting, there was no mention of the recent controversies that has surrounded Trump's campaign.

"They talked about how to best unify the party when the time comes for that," the person told Bloomberg Politics, adding they also discussed delegate rules. "If you did not know any better, you would've thought Trump and Priebus liked each other."

The meeting lasted about 30 minutes, and Trump attended with campaign counsel Donald F. McGahn of Jones Day and other advisors, the person said.

At a CNN town hall in Milwaukee on Tuesday, Trump said he would not honor the pledge he signed in September because "I've been treated very unfairly" by the RNC and party insiders.

"No. I don't anymore," Trump told CNN host Anderson Cooper. "We'll see who it is."

The developer provided no further details of Thursday's session with Priebus, which lasted about 50 minutes.

In a statement, RNC spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said that Trump and Priebus had "a productive conversation about the state of the race.

"The chairman is in constant communication with all of the candidates and their campaigns about the primaries, general election, and the convention," Walters said. "Meeting and phone conversations with candidates and their campaigns are common and will increase as we get closer to November."

Barry Bennett, a Trump campaign adviser, said the visit was about Trump helping the RNC raise money.

"The meeting is to help the RNC," he told MSNBC.

Trump was in Washington to meet with members of his new foreign-policy team. His campaign said it also was organizing a Washington office to run its convention operations and work with committee officials and Congress.

Since announcing his campaign in June, Trump and the RNC have had a contentious relationship. The billionaire has hinted several times that he would seek an independent run, while Priebus has contended that the party would support the eventual nominee.

GOP officials, however, are quietly preparing for a brokered convention in Cleveland in July — even launching a website Thursday explaining how the nomination process works and including specifics about a contested convention.

Trump's meeting with Priebus also follows an embarrassing about-face on Wednesday after telling MSNBC's Chris Matthews that women should be punished for abortions if they become outlawed.

"There has to be some form of punishment," he said. Asked what form he would advocate, Trump said, "That I don't know."

The remarks provoked outrage on virtually every front — from Republicans and Democrats to pro-life groups and antiabortion activists — prompting Trump to retreat within an hour as his campaign scrambled to clarify his position.

"If Congress were to pass legislation making abortion illegal and the federal courts upheld this legislation, or any state were permitted to ban abortion under state and federal law, the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman," he said in a statement released later Wednesday. "The woman is a victim in this case as is the life in her womb.

"My position has not changed — like Ronald Reagan, I am pro-life with exceptions," Trump said.

Katrina Pierson, a campaign spokeswoman, Thursday called the gaffe a "simple misspeak" that came in response to a "hypothetical question" from Matthews.

"We shouldn't make this a 24-hour headline when we have things like terrorism going on in the world," she said.

But the latest controversy threatened to further erode Trump's standing with women voters, many of whom have been offended by his use of vulgarities and insulting language to describe women during the presidential race.

The abortion flap erupted as Trump campaigned in Wisconsin before the state's critical primary on Tuesday. He currently holds 739 delegates, compared with 463 for Cruz and 143 for Kasich.

A poll released Wednesday by the Marquette University Law School showed Cruz 10 points ahead of Trump in the Badger State, while a Public Policy Polling survey released Thursday showed the two in a virtual dead heat among voters.

Bloomberg News and Reuters contributed to this report.

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Donald Trump held a "unity meeting" with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Thursday, in light of his declaration Tuesday that he would not honor a pledge he signed last year to support the party's eventual nominee.
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2016-10-31
Thursday, 31 Mar 2016 09:10 PM
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