Trump’s Team Goes All In On Building Support On Capitol Hill

April 19, 2016 6:10 p.m.

Donald Trump is trying to make his campaign great again.

After losing ground to Ted Cruz in the tedious delegate game, Donald Trump’s campaign has a game plan to get their candidate back on track and in a position to lock up 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination and they are making their pitch to Capitol HIll.

In recent weeks, the Trump campaign has undergone an overhaul, bringing in well-known Republican strategist Paul Manafort to run his delegate outreach and rules expert Bill McGinley to prepare for the final leg of the GOP primary. But staff modifications are not the only shake up within the Trump campaign. Trump surrogates on Capitol Hill say they expect the candidate himself to make some changes as Trump transitions from facing off against Cruz in a bitter primary to running against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

According to multiple sources who attended meetings Tuesday with Manafort at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington, D.C., Trump’s campaign is assuring congressional supporters that Trump is ready to get serious, touting his planned policy speeches in upcoming weeks in an attempt to shed some of the criticisms that his campaign is rich in showmanship, but short on specifics.

Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), who attended one of the meetings but has not endorsed Trump, said Trump’s campaign promised it would demonstrate Trump’s policy chops.

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“They did say there would be more policy proposals coming from Trump in upcoming weeks,” Perry said.

Rick Dearborn, the chief of staff for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who endorsed Trump, participated in at least one meeting with Manafort and confirmed that Trump’s team was making a pitch to both roughly a dozen House members who are on the fence about Trump as well as a handful of senators.

Members on the Hill say they also were promised the Trump campaign has learned from its past organizational woes and is retooled and ready for the next phase of the campaign.

The meeting Tuesday afternoon seemed particularly focused on members of Congress from Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania GOP primary is next Tuesday.

“For me Pennsylvania is next and I had concerns and now I am not concerned at all,” said Rep. Lou Baretta (R-PA). In addition to Perry and Baretta, Reps. Tom Marino and Mike Kelly were also in attendance.

But Trump’s surrogates on Capitol Hill also want a little more. As Trump makes a play to expand supporters on Capitol Hill, many are calling for him to soften his rhetoric toward women and immigrants.

Trump supporter Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) who attended several of the meetings with Manafort on Tuesday, said it was clear Trump may need to work on his “delivery.” Marino recounted that among the roughly dozen or so on-the-fence congressmen who met with Manafort there was some consensus that Trump needed to “focus on the issues” and tone down the heat.

“You can learn to step on somebody’s shoes without messing up the polish,” Marino said.

In a phone call with Trump a few weeks ago, Marino said he personally told Trump that “he has everyone’s attention now as far as having the popular vote, as far as being a candidate now he’s got to pivot to being presidential.”

Marino said Trump, too, was interested in earning the “respect of women” whose votes he recognized were important to his success.

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