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Trump Woos Wyoming's Delegation

Gage Skidmore

Donald Trump wasn’t the first choice of Wyoming’s congressional delegation, but now that he’s presumed Republican nominee, they’re all embracing him in their own way.

Wyoming’s junior senator, John Barrasso, is a part of the Republican leadership team in the Senate, so he was inside Thursday’s meeting in Washington with Donald Trump. That doesn’t mean Barrasso necessarily wants to stop and talk about Trump.

“We had a very good, productive meeting and I’m late for another one right now.”

Reporters didn’t let up though and pressed Barrasso on whether a Trump presidency is good for the west or not.

“He absolutely is very focused on American energy and using energy as a master resource and we can’t do what President Obama has been doing in terms of preventing us from using our energy resources.”

But the Senator did not give specifics. The key question Barrasso wouldn’t stop to answer is whether Trump is good for the Republican Party – or, for that matter, the conservative brand. A handful of Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan aren’t convinced he is. Republican Carlos Curbelo represents a purple district in south Florida. He’s opposed to Trump and presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, but he worries Trump will only create deeper rifts amongst voters.

“We have someone who continues dividing the country through very tough rhetoric, offensive to some people so I just don’t feel good about our choices right now.”

Republican Charlie Dent is known as a pragmatic moderate who represents an industrial part of Pennsylvania. For now, he opposes Trump, in part because he says all he hears is rhetoric.  

“Up to this point, we haven’t heard a lot of policy specifics and the few that we’ve heard have been often conflicted.”

With their traditional conservative values, Wyoming lawmakers couldn’t be more different than Trump if they tried.  Still, each member of the delegation has their own reason for backing Trump now that he’s all but the inevitable GOP nominee. For Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis it’s an easy choice.

“If I had to name six words that describe why I’m going to support Donald Trump, it’s Supreme Court, Supreme Court, Supreme Court.”

That doesn’t mean Lummis is going to give Trump a pass on some of his more inflammatory comments. She said she’s concerned that “his rhetoric is pretty anti-woman.”  

“I don’t like that at all. I’m uncomfortable with the way that he confronts women, talks about women, deals with women with whom he’s not related.”

Lummis added that Trump could mitigate his past sexist remarks by surrounding himself with strong conservative women on the campaign trail or in his cabinet. Then there’s Wyoming senior senator Mike Enzi. He’s a serious policy guy, but he brushes aside the bombast of Trump.  

“I think he probably hired a lot of people to figure out how to turn the campaign into a reality show, because he’s done reality shows, and since there aren’t any journalists at the national level, they allowed him to do that. Reality shows get big crowds.”

And Enzi said Trump is showing signs of improvement since basically wrapping up the nomination.

“I think that he’ll do what needs to be done and I think he’s shown that. I don’t approve of the methods necessarily, but you’ve certainly got to agree that there’s been some progress there.”

But for Enzi Trump’s biggest asset to the GOP and the nation is his business experience.

“We’re going to need somebody that knows how to deal with big numbers and a lot of people. We have 96,000 employees working for the government just in the District of Columbia and we better have somebody that knows how to organize and run big organizations and I think Trump has that capability – he’s worked with big organizations.”

Trump is an easy favorite to win Wyoming, but in key swing states he’s still got to win over Independents, minorities and female voters if he wants to move into the White House. That’s what’s got Republican, conservative and evangelical leaders nationwide worried. 

Based on Capitol Hill, Matt Laslo is a reporter who has been covering campaigns and every aspect of federal policy since 2006. While he has filed stories for NPR and more than 40 of its affiliates, he has also written for Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, Campaigns and Elections Magazine, The Daily Beast, The Chattanooga Times Free Press, The Guardian, The Omaha World-Herald, VICE News and Washingtonian Magazine.
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