Politics

Trump Warns GOP Against Playing 'Cute' With Nomination

But says in conversation last week the speaker 'couldn't have been nicer'

Trump gives a brief tour at the construction site for the Trump International Hotel, at the Old Post Office Pavilion. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump told reporters Monday that Republican leaders "can play games and they can play cute" in a bid to thwart his candidacy, but he hopes they get on board if he's on track for the nomination.  

Trump had been asked specifically about whether he trusted Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., to be chairman of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, which is one of the less-noticed responsibilities of the leader of the House.  

"I understand duplicity, I understand a lot of things," said Trump, speaking at a news conference inside his still under construction hotel at the Old Post Office site in Washington, D.C. "But, he called me last week. He could not have been nicer. I spoke with [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell. He could not have been nicer. If people want to be smart, they should embrace this movement."  

Ryan was in the nation's capitol Monday, but with the Senate starting a two-week recess, McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, has been in Louisville. Neither GOP leader attended an earlier meeting with Trump and several lawmakers.  

The question to Trump relied on the premise that Ryan "worked behind the scenes to oppose [his] candidacy" in the case of a contested convention, where no candidate has enough delegates to claim the nomination.  

"As convention chairman, Speaker Ryan has gone to great lengths to be neutral in the presidential race," Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong responded.  

The Wisconsin Republican has been willing to criticize Trump. Notably, he delivered a rebuke over the businessman's reluctance toward denouncing the Ku Klux Klan and David Duke, and the question also alluded to those statements.  

"It's a very fair question because I noticed he's having meetings. But he called me last week and he couldn't have been nicer he was very — just could not have been nicer. I have tremendous — I have many millions of people behind me," Trump said in response. "We want to bring confidence back to the country. We want to bring sanity back to this country."  

Contact Lesniewski at nielslesniewski@cqrollcall.com and follow him on Twitter at @nielslesniewski. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone.