Politics

Republican Members of Congress Opening Up to Trump Candidacy

Trump waves to caucus voters as he leaves Palo Verde High School in Summerlin, Nev., after his visit to the GOP caucus location. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As he picks up his third straight victory and positive prospects in upcoming GOP primary contest, some Republican members of Congress are opening up to endorsing Donald Trump or accepting him as the presidential nominee of the party.  

On Wednesday, Trump picked up endorsements from Reps. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., and Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and a few other House Republicans say they could support the billionaire businessman. "I've been saying for a long time that the two men that I think are the best hope for America, who happen to be Republicans, are Trump and Cruz," said Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., who previously backed Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. "I like their independence. I like the fact they know there's a problem in Washington and that problem is the establishment and that problem is the influence of money."  

However, Jones said he was withholding his endorsement until he finished his own primary race.  

"I got two opponents," he said. "My election right now is more important to me than Mr. Trump or Mr. Cruz."  

In the past, Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., had criticized Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. but on Wednesday showed some openness to the front-runner.  

"He's getting more people to turn out than ever, so he's well on his way," Upton said. And when talking about those previous criticisms of Trump, he recalled a recent conversation with his 91-year-old father. "World War II vet. Reminded me of what my grandfather said a lot. 'Was you always perfect?'"  

When asked about Trump turning off large groups of voters, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., deflected to say that Hillary Clinton has faced her own trouble.  

"Both parties are going to have issues with their nominee, whoever the nominee is," Walden said. He added that the NRCC has not come up with a plan in case Trump is the nominee and that it is too early to know who the nominee will be.  

"You see members making their decisions," Walden said. "I don't plan to weigh into any of that, I'm focused on the House and trying to make sure we maintain a majority."  

Contact Garcia at EricGarcia@cqrollcall.com and follow him on Twitter at @EricMGarcia Related: Collins, Hunter Are First to Back Trump Trump's Huge Nevada Win Raises Super Tuesday Stakes Roll Call Race Ratings Map: Ratings for Every House and Senate Race in 2016 Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.