A group of top House Republican conservatives is meeting with former President Donald Trump on Thursday to “chart the course for the future of the Republican Party and the conservative movement.”
Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, chair of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) – the nearly half-century-old caucus of House conservative lawmakers – and about a dozen other committee members, are teaming up with the former president at Trump’s summer residence at his Bedminster golf club in New Jersey.
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“President Trump has reached out to me over the past several weeks. He’s paying close attention to what we’re up to at the Republican Study Committee. He supports it and today is an opportunity for our members to update him on what we’ve been up to and talk about how we can work together moving forward,” Banks told Fox News in an exclusive interview Thursday as he traveled to meet with the former president.
Banks highlighted that since the beginning of the year, his committee’s been “developing the consensus conservative agenda that can bring our party together, an agenda that is a winning agenda that can bring back the majority and an agenda we can focus on when we get the majority back. That agenda is the Trump agenda.”
The GOP controlled the House for eight years before losing the majority in the chamber in the 2018 midterms amid a wave by House Democrats. But while Republicans lost the White House and their Senate majority in the 2020 contests, in the battle for the House, they defied expectations and took a big bite out of the Democrats’ majority. They currently only need a net gain of five seats in 2022 to regain control of the chamber.
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Banks said he knows that the former president “will go out and stump for House Republicans” on the campaign trail next year. And he predicted that “we will win back the majority if we stay focused on fighting for the Trump agenda, an agenda that appeals to non-traditional Republican voters, working-class voters that Donald Trump brought into the Republican Party, who weren’t with us before, not since the days of Ronald Reagan.”
That was the message of a memo the RSC gave to House Republican Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy in March, stressing that the GOP should fully embrace its transformation to a blue-collar party.
More than four months removed from the White House, Trump remains extremely popular with most Republican voters and retains plenty of clout over GOP politicians, as he aims to play a kingmaker role in the party’s 2020 primaries and repeatedly flirts with another presidential run in 2024.
The committee’s meeting with Trump, first reported by the New York Post, isn’t their only sit-down with a potential 2024 GOP White House hopeful.
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Among the others they’ve met with are former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Marco Rubio of Florida, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
The committee’s meeting next week with former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who served as ambassador to the United Nations under Trump. They’ve also been in contact with Sen. Rick Scott of Florida. And Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Kristi Noem of South Dakota – two other possible presidential contenders – are former RSC members.
Asked if the meetings were somewhat of an unofficial RSC 2024 GOP presidential primary, Banks answered, “I don’t like to think of it that way.”
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He touted that the committee he’s chaired since the beginning of the year is “the only organization or institution on Capitol Hill that is really charting the course of where the Republican Party goes from here and those names have joined RSC to help us think through that, and all of those conversations have been very healthy and productive. They’ve helped us put together this agenda.”
And he stressed that the GOP “can be the party of both Ronald Reagan and the party of Donald Trump, and if we are, that’s a winning recipe to be the majority party for a long time to come.”
Fox News’ Tyler Olson contributed to this report.