Posted: 3:51 pm Tuesday, May 10th, 2016
By Jamie Dupree
With Republicans still getting used to the idea that Donald Trump is on his way to being the Republican Party nominee for President, GOP Senators for and against Trump said on Tuesday that the party’s standard bearer must do more to reach out to Republicans on Capitol Hill and provide more detail on his policy plans and goals.
“Start communicating with the House and the Senate,” was the advice offered by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), who says he’s ready to work with Trump, but wants to see more meat on the bones of the Trump agenda.
Inhofe – who says he’s fully on board with Trump – said foreign policy was one example of where Trump needs to step up with specifics.
“He’s said a lot of things,” Inhofe told reporters, arguing that Trump has been in a ‘campaign’ phase.
“His foreign policy positions are way out of the mainstream,” complained Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who also said he would like to see more cooperation between Trump and Republicans.
But other GOP Senators urged lawmakers and voters who don’t support Trump to calm down.
“I think a better place to be is to chill,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) to a pack of reporters. “Let the campaign evolve a little bit and see where the candidate ends up.”
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) May 10, 2016
Corker – who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – told reporters that he had spoken several times with the Trump campaign, then waved off talk that he was being vetted as Trump’s running mate.
“I have no reason to believe that I’m being considered as Vice President,” Corker said.
In terms of big name endorsements for Trump, two of his former rivals were not giving any signs that they were about to join the Trump Train.
“I don’t view myself as a guy who is going to sit here for the next six months taking shots at him,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
“People know where I stand, they know what our differences are,” Rubio added at a foreign policy seminar at the Hudson Institute.
Also not endorsing was Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who told talk show host Glenn Beck that he was not ready to endorse, as he also downplayed any talk of a third party bid against Trump.
Ted Cruz just about to fly back to DC for Senate return, not endorsing Trump, says third party bid not likely
— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) May 10, 2016
Cruz made his comments as he prepared to fly back to Washington and resume his work full time in the Senate, a week after he dropped out of the race.
In the hallways, it wasn’t hard to figure out which member of Congress was a Democrat, and which was a Republican.
The Republicans were the ones with all sorts of reporters following them, like Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA).
Not all GOP lawmakers were being overly chatty about Trump, as some were still reluctant to talk in public about their party’s nominee – as some were seen rushing by reporters, their eyes fixed in a “I’m-not-talking-to-any-of-you-so-don’t-even-try-to-ask-me-anything” type of look.
The feeling among fellow reporters was that was not going to be a strategy that would work in the long term.
PSA: Not taking Trump questions is not a sustainable position for congressional Republicans
— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) May 10, 2016
“I’ll support the Republican ticket,” Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) said several times as he walked to the weekly GOP lunch for Senators, surrounded by reporters.
With a smile, Isakson made clear – with a bit of humor – that he was already tiring of the repeated questions about Trump.
“I need laryngitis as quick as I can get it,” Isakson said, reducing reporters to laughter.
About the Author
Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog. A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989.