Trump tells lawmakers he’ll put blue states in play
© Greg Nash/The Hill
 
In his first meeting with the House Republican conference, Trump said he will put Oregon, Washington, Connecticut and Michigan in play.
 
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The Republican nominee has not won Michigan or Connecticut since 1988 and has not won Oregon or Washington since 1984.
 
“He never stopped talking about that. … He says he can put them all in play and was giving different poll numbers,” said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.). 
 
“The reaction was very positive. I’ve been in politics a long time, so I can be cynical. There was very little cynicism in the room.”
 
Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the House Republican campaign arm, said he was startled that Trump mentioned his home state. Walden, the only Oregon Republican serving in Congress, said he immediately emailed his pollster to find out if what Trump said was true.
 
 
"We are seeing pretty strong performance even in competitive districts, which runs against the pundit narrative right now," Walden said. "I’m looking at data. The data shows he’s very competitive, 1 to 2 points up or down in districts where I’d say intuitively, no way. But the data is real.”
 
There are three recent polls of Connecticut that show Clinton ahead by 7 or 8 points. In Michigan, a survey from May found Clinton ahead by 4 points. There is no recent polling for Washington, but Obama carried the state by 15 points in 2012.
 
Other polls show Trump struggling in traditionally red states. Republicans have been alarmed by surveys that show closer-than-expected contests in Arizona, Utah and Georgia — all of which have been Republican strongholds for decades.
 
Still, Trump seemed to convince the lawmakers he spoke to on Tuesday that in 2016, the traditional red-blue state divides won’t necessarily hold.
 
“I think he’s got more potential in expanding the base of the party than any other candidate I’ve seen in my lifetime,” said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.).
 
Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) likened Trump to former President Ronald Reagan, who won 49 of the 50 states in 1984.
 
“I was in politics back during Reagan’s time and people said, 'That actor, he can never get it done,' " Carter said. 
 
“And you know what? He took nearly every damn state in the country, and I think Trump has the momentum and the energy to do it.”