Donald Trump goes mainstream

Donald Trump speaks during the Republican Leadership Conference on Friday in New Orleans. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS -- Louisiana Senate candidate Rob Maness (R) has received several key tea party endorsements in his 2014 campaign, from Sarah Palin to the Senate Conservatives Fund.

One endorsement he won't be getting: Donald Trump's.

In fact, when it comes to primaries, the tea party-aligned Trump sounds a whole lot like GOP establishment leaders -- calling for pragmatism over purity -- rather than tea party groups.

At a press conference during the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans on Friday, Trump disclosed that Maness approached him  to seek his support for his campaign -- a race in which Maness is in the single digits while Rep. Bill Cassidy polls as the GOP frontrunner against Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).

Trump practically scoffed at Maness's request, pointing to the polls and saying that Maness is essentially just stealing support from the Republican with the best chance to beat Landrieu: Cassidy.

"One hundred percent of that 7 percent is coming from your candidate [Cassidy]," Trump said.

He added that candidates like Maness should consider dropping out if they aren't competitive.

"My advice is, prior to the election, you gotta get these people together. You can’t have somebody taking eight percent of the vote who’s a conservative," Trump said. "I know you think you’re going to take that eight percent and win an election, but that’s not what history shows."

(It should be noted here that the U.S. Senate race in Louisiana would come down to a two-candidate runoff if no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote -- a likely outcome. In that case, those other candidates wouldn't be on the ballot anyways.)

Trump even used the same William Buckley quote used earlier in Friday's session here by former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour -- an establishment Republican if there ever was one -- that Republicans should nominate the best conservatives with a chance of winning.

"The Republicans have to win," Trump said. "I’m a very conservative person, but Republicans have to win."

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.



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