The highest-ranking woman in the House Republican conference endorsed Donald Trump late Wednesday night, carefully backing the controversial New York businessman, in what could serve as a template for Republicans who still have reservations about their party's presumptive presidential nominee.
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Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., the House GOP conference chairwoman, said in a statement and Facebook post that she mailed her primary ballot for Trump earlier this week, saying it is "essential" to respect the will of GOP primary voters.
But the Washington Republican, a mother of a child with Down syndrome, has been concerned over Trump's comments about women, the disabled and various ethnic groups on the campaign trail and said he still has work to do to completely win over Republicans.
"Mr. Trump won millions of supporters by speaking his mind honestly; calling out the dysfunction in Washington, D.C.; and talking outside the politically correct box," she said. "In the months ahead, he will have to earn the presidency by demonstrating that he has the temperament for the job and plans to empower every American to pursue a future of opportunity and freedom."
She also said she "won't be shy" about calling Trump out on future controversies because he "owes it to our party and our country to treat everyone respectfully and to build an inclusive coalition."
McMorris Rogers — along with House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and other GOP leaders — met with Trump last week in Washington, and both sides said it was a positive meeting.
But Ryan, who forcefully condemned Trump on several occasions during the primary campaign, has yet to endorse the businessman's candidacy.
He told reporters Tuesday he hopes Trump, as the party's presumptive presidential nominee, is considered the leader of the GOP this year.
Trump's campaign and Ryan's office have been in close contact since the meeting last week, working to sync Trump's campaign with the House GOP's election-year agenda, which the conference hopes to release before the nominating convention in July.
The Trump campaign has also begun working with House GOP committee chairs on policy issues.