A defiant Donald Trump made it clear he won't change his brash tone or message as he courted anxious Republican lawmakers Thursday, blaming the media for stumbles that continue to alarm GOP leaders and energize Democrats. In his second Capitol Hill tour in three months, Trump called for unity, but he also threatened would-be party critics on a day that was designed to rally anxious Republicans behind him, the AP reports. Deflecting questions about his discipline in public comments, Trump insisted his recent praise for Saddam Hussein was taken out of context and ignored fresh concern about a campaign tweet widely condemned as anti-Semitic, according to Republicans who attended closed-door meetings.
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake declined to address reports that Trump threatened to attack him politically during a testy exchange that Sen. John McCain said "everybody was talking about" afterward. Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, who wasn't in Thursday's meeting, fired back at Trump, who reportedly called him a loser during the private gathering. "We haven't seen a personality like his too much in the Midwest. Eastern, privileged, wealthy bully," said Kirk, who has declined to endorse Trump. There was a more cooperative tone inside Trump's meeting with House Republicans, even if skeptical lawmakers didn't necessarily hear what they were hoping for. "There was no talk of pivoting. There was no talk of changing his style or anything like that," said Rep. Peter King of New York. "I think you have to expect that you're going to get Donald Trump. But he showed today that he could be Donald Trump and still work with Republicans."