President Donald Trump has privately dismissed fears from Republican leaders that the party could lose majorities in Congress in this November's elections, The New York Times reported Saturday.
"That's not going to happen," Trump said "at different points" during a dinner conversation this month with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and White House legislative director Marc Short, the Times reported.
The newspaper cited "multiple officials briefed on the conversation," saying that Trump's perceived indifference leaves "party officials and the president’s advisers nervous that he does not grasp the gravity of the threat they face in the midterm elections."
Republicans hold a 51-49 majority in the Senate — and Democrats only need to win 26 House seats in November to take back the lower chamber.
So far, 39 Republicans — 36 in the House and three in the Senate — have said they are either retiring or not seeking re-election.
"Congressional and party leaders and even some Trump aides are concerned that the president’s boundless self-assurance about politics will cause him to ignore or undermine their midterm strategy," the Times reported.
In such battleground states as Florida, Arizona and Nevada, President Trump's "proclivity to be a loose cannon could endanger the Republican incumbents and challengers who are already facing ferocious Democratic headwinds," according to the report.
However, Eric Beach, a Republican strategist who leads the pro-Trump Great America PAC, endorsed the president's skepticism about the mid-term strategy of McConnell and outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
"He doesn’t think that's how you win elections because that’s not how he won his election," Beach told the Times.
"He knows and understands that the core issues of today are illegal immigration — including building the wall — and trade inequity."
Privately, congressional leaders have said they consider Trump a "political millstone" for many of the party's candidates, the Times disclosed.
McConnell has told associates "in recent weeks" that Republicans might "lose the Senate because of the anti-Trump energy on the left."
In addition, at Ryan's GOP donor retreat in Texas earlier this month, pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson, said that Trump was "a major source of the party's woes," multiple attendees told the Times.
Anderson noted that Trump's job approval was markedly weaker than past presidents, including Democratic President Barack Obama shortly before Democrats lost 63 House seats in the tea party wave of 2010.
But President Trump has complained about having to campaign for "relatively weak Republicans," the Times reported.
They included Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who lost to Democrat Doug Jones last year, and Rick Saccone, who was beaten by Conor Lamb in the last month's special Pennsylvania House race.
"Mr. Trump has subsequently blamed others in the party for thrusting him into episodes of humiliating defeat," the Times reported — and he has been cautiously wading into the race to succeed Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, who resigned this month.
Still, Trump is eager to hit the campaign trail. New York Rep. Lee Zeldin said he would appreciate Trump's help on the campaign trail as he tries to seek a third term.
"I would expect the president and vice president to be in congressional districts all across the country," Zeldin told the Times. "I’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback on the desire of the president’s team to be as helpful as possible."
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