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Speaker Paul Ryan Calls Donald Trump Meeting 'Encouraging'


Donald Trump met with House and Senate Republican leaders today in a series of private meetings across Capitol Hill. The question at hand - can Republicans put aside their differences and unite behind a Trump candidacy? NPR congressional reporter Susan Davis starts us off with this report.




SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: The street surrounding the Republican National Committee were filled with the sounds of discord from anti-Trump activists like this impersonator who mocked Trump's indifference to the Washington establishment.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Me and my cohorts will bring a new future to Washington, D.C. Actually we're going to move it to New York, but I haven't told them that.

DAVIS: Inside the RNC, the conversation was all about party unity. It was the first major face-to-face meeting between Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan. The speaker has very publicly declined to endorse his party's expected nominee. After nearly two hours of private meetings with Trump and other Republican leaders, Ryan sized him up this way.


PAUL RYAN: His personality I thought was - I thought he has a very good personality. He's a very, warm and genuine person.

DAVIS: He's a person Ryan could see himself endorsing, but he's still not there.


RYAN: I think we had a very encouraging meeting. Look, it's no secret that Donald Trump and I have had our differences. We talked about those differences today.

DAVIS: Ryan wouldn't divulge the details of that part of the conversation, but their differences are well documented. Ryan has been a critic of Trump's call to ban Muslims from entering the country. He's also against Trump's proposals to raise the minimum wage, increase taxes on the wealthy and keep the current Medicare system as is - just to name a few. But Ryan said he and Trump agree on core principles for the party, the big ideas.


RYAN: Principles like the Constitution, the separation of powers, the fact that we have an executive that is going way beyond the boundaries of the Constitution and how it's important to us that we restore article one of the Constitution. It's the principle of self-government. We talked about life and how strongly we feel about this core principle. We talked about the Supreme Court and things like this.

DAVIS: And Ryan credits Trump for bringing new voters to the Republican Party. He says the challenge now is to welcome these newcomers without alienating more traditional party voters in the general election.


RYAN: So the question is - and this is what we think we can be a party to helping - how do we unify it all so this is really a big and growing movement? How do we keep adding and adding and adding voters while not subtracting any voters?

DAVIS: For their part, Democrats scoff at the suggestion that Republicans will be able to run on the parts of Trump's agenda they like and ignore the parts they don't. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says too many House Republicans agree with Trump on his more controversial opinions to be able to draw any distinction between the top and bottom of the ticket this November.


NANCY PELOSI: Whether it's insulting President Obama, women, immigrants, Muslims, LGBT Americans - there's not a dime's worth of difference between what Donald Trump says and what the House Republicans have been saying all along.

DAVIS: Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn also took part in the Trump sessions. He says some of his colleagues did raise the issue of Trump's tone on the campaign trail. Cornyn told reporters Trump was receptive to those concerns.


JOHN CORNYN: I think he listened. Obviously he's never run for public office before, and so this is a new experience for him and for us.

DAVIS: The next step in this unification process is for Ryan and Trump's respective policy teams to figure out more specifically what they can agree on. And that could require more meetings. Susan Davis, NPR News, the Capitol. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Susan Davis is a congressional correspondent for NPR and a co-host of the NPR Politics Podcast. She has covered Congress, elections, and national politics since 2002 for publications including USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, National Journal and Roll Call. She appears regularly on television and radio outlets to discuss congressional and national politics, and she is a contributor on PBS's Washington Week with Robert Costa. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Philadelphia native.

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