Presidential races

Trump admits RNC chief suggested he ‘tone it down’ on immigration

Donald Trump on Thursday acknowledged that Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus suggested he tone down his comments on immigration, but Trump insisted their overall talk was “congratulatory” in tone.

“He said, ‘Well, you really have hit a nerve, keep going,’” Trump told The New York Times about their call, which he said lasted at most 15 minutes.

“He said, ‘If you could tone it down – I know that’s tough – but if you could tone it down, that wouldn’t be bad.”

{mosads}Trump insisted the overall talk was much more positive in tone. He told the Times his aides had been in contact with Priebus in the past.

“It was more of a congratulatory call,” he said.

Trump’s comments came after The Washington Post and the Times reported that Priebus asked the presidential contender to soften his rhetoric on immigration in a phone call Wednesday night.

The Post report, released Wednesday night, reported that Priebus contacted Trump after concerns from donors and strategists that his recent controversial comments could hurt the party’s efforts to attract Hispanic voters.

Donors told the Post that the pair spoke for 45 minutes, with Priebus warning Trump to “tone it down.” 

Trump initially disputed the reports, tweeting on Thursday:

Sean Spicer, chief strategist for the RNC, had confirmed the call to the Post and the Times.

“Chairman Priebus often speaks privately with candidates seeking our party’s nomination,” Spicer told the Post in a statement. “He did have a very respectful conversation with Mr. Trump on Wednesday. They discussed multiple comments, including comments on illegal immigration.”

Trump’s statement that many Mexican immigrants are “rapists” or “bringing drugs” has prompted a significant backlash from Hispanic groups and his business partners, many of whom cut ties with the billionaire real estate mogul.

Democrats have also seized on the controversy, tying Trump to the Republican Party while many Republican presidential rivals and many of his business partners look to distance themselves from those remarks.

The Democratic National Committee on Thursday released a new video panning the GOP as the “ReTrumplican Party,” pairing Trump’s immigration statements with those from other Republican presidential candidates. 

While Trump has struck a nerve among the party’s establishment, he still is polling strong and could make it to the first debate in August.

He came in second in two recent national polls of the field and is leading among Republicans in North Carolina, according to a new poll by Public Policy Polling. 

This story was updated at 11:14 a.m.

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