Donald Trump, who has run an unpredictable campaign, had a predictably unusual peace meeting with party lawmakers on Thursday where he threatened and insulted those critical of him.
At a meeting with Republican senators, he called Mark Kirk, who was not present, “dishonest” and a “loser”, and forecast re-election loss for Jeff Flake. Both have refused to support Trump.
Flake, who was present, told Trump he was not even on the ballot. The senator had earlier introduced himself as “the other senator from Arizona — the one who didn’t get captured”.
That was a direct hit on Trump for his remark from very early in the campaign when he had attacked senior Arizona senator John McCain for getting captured during the Vietnam war.
Trump was not amused. He told Flake he had been going easy on him so far, and will now ensure he didn’t win his re-election bi this year. Flake told him he was not up for re-election yet.
Trump, who also met Republican members of the House of Representatives, is trying to rally the party around his candidacy, with increasing urgency in view of the approaching convention.
Kirk, Flake, Kelly Ayotte and Ben Sasse are among those who have either said they will not be backing Trump or are among those waiting to be convinced to support to him.
Kirk, seeking re-election from Illinois, which is a Democratic-leaning state, withdrew his endorsement of Trump over the nominee’s racist remarks against a federal judge.
Trump’s meeting with House Republicans was less acrimonious, though he was questioned about his controversial remarks about Hispanics and other issues. Some lawmakers were satisfied.
Others, such as Adam Kinzinger, a rising star in the party, were not.
He told The Hill that Trump was being “typical Donald Trump”, and added “there is a lack of enthusiasm, you can feel it”.