Trump's representatives, including newly recruited senior advisers
Paul Manafort and Rick Wiley, met privately with leaders of the
Republican National Committee at an oceanside resort hotel where the
party is holding a three-day meeting.
ďThe part that heís been playing is now evolving into the part that
youíve been expecting. The negatives will come down, the image is
going to change," Trump senior adviser Paul Manafort assured the
party leaders, according to an audiotape of the session heard by
Trump has been "projecting an image" to energize voters, Manafort
said, adding that he will soon concentrate on "crooked Hillary," the
nickname that Trump has given to Democratic favorite Hillary
"You'll see a different guy," said Manafort.
But in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Trump suggested he was not ready to
change from the style that has brought him close to the Republican
"I just don't know if I want to do it yet," he said.
In recent weeks, Trump has railed against the party for developing
what he said was a "rigged" system in which Cruz was able to amass
delegates in Colorado without Republicans actually voting.
Chatting over shrimp, crab legs and an open bar, Trump's advisers
expressed confidence that their candidate would win the Republican
presidential nomination without the party having to resort to a
contested convention in Cleveland in July, according to three
Trump, 69, needs 1,237 delegates to win the nomination outright for
the Nov. 8 election. Rivals Ted Cruz, 45, and John Kasich, 63, are
trying to stop him from getting a majority of delegates, so they can
force a contested convention in which one of them could emerge as
Cruz told a conservative talk radio host, Mark Levin, that
Manafort's comments show that Trump's campaign style "is just an
Party leaders told reporters after the session that Trump's envoys
said Trump, as the Republican nominee, would be able to expand the
party's electoral map to include several states Republicans have not
won in a general election in a generation.
One attendee, South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Matt Moore,
said the Trump team told the group it expected Trump to adopt a
"more presidential demeanor" over the next few weeks.Moore said he
was taking a wait-and-see attitude on whether Trump would change.
"The proof is in the pudding," he said.
[to top of second column]
Manafort told reporters after the meeting that "we talked about how
we're going to expand the map."
As for how to change the negative image some voters had of Trump,
Manafort said: "We just have to present him in a way that shows all
sides of Donald Trump."
'STOP FIGHTING AMONG OURSELVES'
Former presidential candidate Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon
who has endorsed Trump, also addressed the group. Talking to
reporters as he walked into the meeting, Carson said his message was
that Republicans should "stop fighting among ourselves" and unite
ďI donít think anyone can win if the Republican Party and the
conservatives donít consolidate," he said.
Trump, who has alarmed some establishment Republicans with his
comments on immigration, Muslims and trade, has begun to moderate
his message in recent days.
Trump's campaign has hired staff versed in the ways of Washington
and has begun holding regular meetings on Capitol Hill with current
and potential supporters.
Trump clashed again on Thursday with Cruz, a U.S. senator from
Texas, this time over a North Carolina law passed last month
requiring transgender people to use government and school bathrooms
that correspond with the sex on their birth certificates.
During an appearance at an NBC "Today" show town hall, Trump sided
with critics of the law, passed by a Republican-controlled
legislature, saying it was unnecessary and that North Carolina was
"paying a big price" because of negative business reaction.
His comments drew immediate criticism from Cruz, a staunch social
and fiscal conservative who supports the law and said Trump had
caved to political correctness as he seeks to broaden his appeal.
(Reporting by Steve Holland and Amanda Becker; Additional reporting
by Richard Cowan and Ginger Gibson; Editing by Frances Kerry, Peter
Cooney and Simon Cameron-Moore)
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