Steele: Trump should focus on party values, not lawsuits

WASHINGTON — The former chair of the Republican National Committee won’t give Donald Trump his unconditional support unless the billionaire aligns himself with the principles and values of the party and begins to focus on leading the party.

Michael Steele told WTOP Tuesday that Trump’s recent comments about the judge handling a lawsuit involving one of the GOP presidential nominee’s past business ventures has put top party officials and members of Congress running for a re-election this fall in a difficult position and could force them to distance themselves from the party’s presidential candidate.

“That’s not a state the party wants to be in,” said Steele, who also previously served as lieutenant governor in Maryland.

Steele said that Trump should let his lawyers handle the lawsuit, which has no place in a national campaign, and focus instead on running for president.

Trump has said that the U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel can’t be impartial in lawsuits against Trump University because of Curiel’s Mexican heritage and because Trump has called for building a wall along the U. S-Mexico border. Curiel was born in Indiana, according to The Associated Press.

Trump has not backed away from the comments.

Such statements make the party’s efforts to address the changing demographics in America and engage with black, Hispanic, Asian and women voters all the more challenging, Steele said.

“We’re now further outside of that the conversation because of a lot of the noise that Donald Trump has brought into the body politic,” Steele said.

Republicans shouldn’t stand by their candidate and ignore his statements simply because he’ll be at the top of the ticket. “That’s not how it works,” Steele said.

“There are principles and ideals that we have fought for and that we value as conservatives, as a party. Either they mean something or they don’t. And no matter who your nominee is, they cannot put the party in a position where you have to choose between him and those principles. He needs to align with those principals, he needs to align with those values because he is the nominee of our party. Period.”

Speaker Paul Ryan and other top Republicans have been forced to address Trump’s comments about the American-born judge. During an announcement of new measures to fight poverty Tuesday, Ryan called the comments racist and unacceptable. He said he would not “attempt to defend the indefensible,” The Associated Press reported.

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