- Monday, June 17, 2024

On Thursday, I had the opportunity to accompany former President Donald Trump and his team to three meetings in Washington.

First, Mr. Trump met with House Republicans. Then, he met with key chief executives of many of America’s largest businesses at the Business Roundtable. Finally, Mr. Trump met with nearly every Senate Republican.

Each meeting was unique. The House Republicans were enthusiastic. Almost 200 of them showed up for a 9:30 a.m. session at the Capitol Hill Club. Mr. Trump’s ability to relate individually with members was remarkable. He looked around the room and referenced their campaigns, districts and issues. It was a powerful reminder that the businessman who came down the escalator in June 2015 is a serious national political leader. Mr. Trump has ties and knowledge extending into virtually every congressional district in the country.

The most striking part of Mr. Trump’s presentation was a story he told about a waitress in Nevada. She complained to him about all the paperwork she had to fill out under new regulations issued by the Biden administration. Mr. Trump talked to her about it and said, “Why don’t we just quit taxing tip money?” She was wildly enthusiastic.

Ever since Mr. Trump publicly discussed this plan, many other tipped workers have been thanking him. A bill like this would appeal to millions of workers who normally don’t think of themselves as Republicans. They are part of a growing Trump coalition that may be able to replace the Roosevelt coalition, which has governed since 1932.

After the House GOP meeting, we went to the Business Roundtable. Larry Kudlow, whose Fox Business show is the highest-rated business program on cable, interviewed the former president. They had a warm rapport since Mr. Kudlow was the chief domestic policy adviser at the Trump White House.

The CEOs listened carefully and asked difficult questions. They agreed that regulations were an even bigger job killer than higher taxes. They also agreed that the world had become dramatically more dangerous — and that strong American leadership was a key to operating multinational companies in a world economy. It was a sophisticated dialogue with people who make billion-dollar decisions.

Finally, Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming had invited Mr. Trump to chat with the Senate Republicans. Almost all of them were there. Leader Mitch McConnell from Kentucky sat two seats from the former president, and Mr. Trump recognized him several times.

While the two have differed deeply, Mr. McConnell is committed to the Republican Party. At the same time, Mr. Trump understands that he must unify his party as the presidential nominee and future president. This has brought both men into an alliance that most reporters would have thought impossible 60 days ago.

Unity was a key message in the House and Senate GOP meetings. There was a clear sense from Mr. Trump and the elected legislative members that they were now on a five-month closing campaign. They know they need a unified and enthusiastic Republican Party to be victorious.

One topic that came up in all three meetings was President Biden’s wandering aimlessly at the G7 meeting in Italy. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni had to walk him back into the group. In every meeting, there was a widespread general sense that Mr. Biden’s cognitive problems may be accelerating — and that, since he is commander in chief, that could be a real problem.

The other issue that came up was the Russian naval presence off Miami. When a nuclear submarine and six other Russian naval vessels docked in Havana, it brought back memories of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. No one believed Mr. Biden had the energy and cognitive ability to match President John F. Kennedy’s performance 62 years ago.

It was an impressive day. The Trump team may be as good as any presidential campaign team I have seen. They are a powerful underpinning to the candidate’s own charismatic appeal, speech-making ability, and extraordinary knowledge of details.

It was an impressive visit to Washington, but it was also a far cry from his first visit on March 21, 2016. He had come for a policy meeting that my wife, Callista, and I attended. At that time, he was a businessman still seen as an underdog and a political novice. Most of these assumptions were wrong then, and they are all wrong now.

Today, Mr. Trump is a seasoned veteran with amazing knowledge about personalities and policies in America and worldwide.

Thursday was a tour de force for Donald Trump and a remarkable sign of unity in the GOP.

• For more commentary from Newt Gingrich, visit Gingrich360.com. And subscribe to the “Newt’s World” podcast.

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