Five Republican senators running for re-election in tight races opted not to attend Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s meeting on the Hill Thursday.
Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Rand Paul of Kentucky, John McCain of Arizona, and Marco Rubio of Florida all skipped Trump’s remarks Thursday, making often flimsy excuses in the process.
Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey told reporters he hadn’t checked his schedule, going further to say that he wasn’t sure what he would be doing instead. Toomey did attend the meeting, but left before taking questions from reporters. “While he continues to have significant differences with Donald Trump, there was a good dialogue in the meeting, and that’s always welcomed,” Toomey Spokesperson Steve Kelly told reporters. Paul told reporters he was unaware of the meeting when asked.
“I’m chairman of the Armed Services Committee,” McCain told reporters. “We scheduled this hearing a couple of months ago. So I can’t just walk out of there.”
“I’ve got to be in the chair at the same time presiding over the Senate in my regular time, but I’m obviously, of all the people in that room, other than Ted Cruz, I’m quite familiar with his positions on a number of issues,” Rubio told reporters.
In addition to the senators, a large number of representatives also declined to attend the meeting.
Republican Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan told reporters he “had a longstanding appointment downtown.” Politico reported that another member’s response included a “breakfast meeting.” The unnamed representative took out his schedule, and tried to show reporters his full schedule, but the time slot for the Trump meeting was empty. The representative took out a pen and added it to his schedule, adding, “See, I have one!”
The members that came to the meeting gave the presumptive Republican nominee a standing ovation not once, but twice. Trump arrived 20 minutes late to the event with his daughter, Ivanka Trump.
An earlier post stated Senator Rob Portman did not attend the meeting. Although Portman told The Hill he needed to look at his schedule, Portman attended the event.
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