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3 Reasons Why Donald Trump Is Back On Capitol Hill

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Sharonville Convention Center on July 6 in Cincinnati. He heads to Capitol Hill today.
John Minchillo
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Sharonville Convention Center on July 6 in Cincinnati. He heads to Capitol Hill today.

Updated at 11:45 a.m. ET

Donald Trump is in Washington Thursday for meetings with Congressional Republicans. He had breakfast with House GOP members and a meeting soon after on Capitol Hill with Senate Republicans. House Speaker Paul Ryan called the earlier one a "great meeting" and that it's clear the GOP is "committed to defeating Hillary Clinton and Democrats this fall."

The meetings come about a week and a half before Trump will formally accept his party's nomination at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

So, why now? Here are three reasons:

A Do-Over With The GOP Establishment: While Trump is about to accept the Republican Party nomination for president, he still doesn't have a lot of strong support from Republicans in Washington. Soon after Trump won House Speaker Paul Ryan's endorsement, top Republicans roundly criticized Trump for his suggestion that a federal judge's Mexican heritage prevented the judge from fairly presiding over the Trump University fraud lawsuit. Since then, the real estate developer has been giving more scripted speeches and promising to carry the "mantle" of the GOP, but he has yet to win the confidence of many Republicans.

The Big Show Is Right Around The Corner: Trump is making the visit to Capitol Hill less than two weeks before the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where delegates are expected to formally nominate him. Modern conventions are meant to be major celebrations and a chance to showcase the new nominee to the country, while making a public display of party unity. But there have been reports that the convention has struggled to fill speaking slots — which Trump denies. And many prominent Republicans say they're skipping the convention this year. That's all the more reason for Trump to meet with influential members of his party and seek to get them on board heading into Cleveland.

The Big Showdown Is Coming: After July, both Trump and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton will almost certainly be their parties' official nominees, with the clock ticking toward November. The general election campaign is already underway, and Trump is behind in polling, fundraising and organization. Trump has a history of eschewing the establishment of both major parties, including his own. But his general election campaign will the need money and grassroots support to be viable in November. That's an area where members of Congress could help Trump with if they choose to campaign for him, or tap their private networks on his behalf.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Sarah McCammon worked for Iowa Public Radio as Morning Edition Host from January 2010 until December 2013.
Sarah McCammon
Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.