GOP urges Trump to ‘pick it up’ ahead of Clinton Hill visit

By Hannah Hess, George Cahlink | 06/22/2016 07:00 AM EDT

With Donald Trump’s fundraising falling far short of his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, Republicans working to keep their control of Congress after November’s election are hoping a campaign shakeup may help their presumptive nominee pick up the pace.

Clinton is scheduled to meet with House Democrats today. Her visit comes days after Trump fired his campaign manager amid reports of an operation in disarray.

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, told reporters yesterday that he hoped to "see evidence" of Trump’s campaign "taking seriously the need to put resources in the bank to help get his message out."


The latest campaign finance filings show Trump loaned his campaign $2.2 million last month and collected $3.1 million in donations, closing May with less than $1.3 million in the bank.

Trump and the Republican National Committee collectively brought in $18.6 million in May, while Clinton and the Democratic National Committee raised more than double that.

Thune suggested Trump’s slow cash flow might mean there will be more money available for donations to down-ballot candidates in competitive Senate races.

"But I think in the end, everybody benefits when the entire ticket does well, so I hope that, you know, he’ll be able to pick it up," Thune added.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, dodged questions about how the paltry fundraising haul might hurt the party and whether he would raise money for Trump.

"I don’t particularly want to sit here today and critique the presidential campaigns," the Kentucky Republican said during his weekly press conference.

That contrasts with unity on the Democratic side.

Clinton was in Washington, D.C., last night to headline a fundraiser with top Senate and House Democrats. Tickets to the event reportedly cost $2,700, with hosts each expected to raise $27,000. Her campaign had $42 million in the bank as of May 31.

House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said he expected Clinton to take questions when she meets with the caucus this morning.

And even though Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is still campaigning for the party’s nomination, Hoyer said Clinton — as the presumptive nominee — would likely not see pushback from his supporters.

"There is not much of a bridge that’s necessary to be built," Hoyer said.

Even though Sanders and Clinton may sometimes disagree on tactics and strategy, Hoyer said, they share the same overall political and policy goals.

Hoyer, an early Clinton backer, said she is "very substantially" beating Donald Trump in polls because she is offering a steady hand in comparison to the bombastic real estate mogul.

"Trump has shown himself totally unqualified to be president of the United States, both by personality and by experience, by knowledge and by temperament. I think the American people are getting that pretty clear," he added.

After recent controversies, Trump appears to be retooling his White House bid. He cut ties with embattled campaign manager Corey Lewandowski on Monday, in a firing that steered leadership to campaign chairman and senior strategist Paul Manafort.

Hoyer dismissed suggestions that Trump’s recent campaign shakeup might signal a new direction, saying the billionaire can’t change who he is. But Republicans sounded hopeful.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), a potential Trump running mate, suggested the campaign might finally be finding its general-election footing.

"It appears there is an effort to direct the campaign in a different way — that’s exciting," said Corker, adding that in the future, the campaign should focus on economic and fiscal policy issues.

Despite a bumpy few weeks, Corker said, Trump is still well-positioned to appeal to general-election voters.

Trump "is the candidate that embodies change, and I think when you see Americans, both in the Democratic and Republican primary voting, that is what they are looking for," he added.