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Wagner keeps name-calling in check, advises Trump to do the same

U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin
Official photo

St. Louis area congresswoman Ann Wagner acknowledges that she’s not always “politically correct.”

But Wagner, R-Ballwin, says that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has taken that term to an all-new level with his harsh jabs at  critics and reporters. And she suggests that he dial it back.

She recalled how she had been in the audience during the GOP debate where Trump got upset with a question posed by Fox News host Megyn Kelly. Wagner said that Kelly’s question had been tough, but respectful. 

Trump’s response, the congresswoman added, was out of bounds. “He went on a slander attack against her that I found reprehensible,’’ Wagner said.

Then the congresswoman cited Trump’s jabs at veterans and immigrants. A couple months ago, she'd forwarded an old Trump donation of $1,000 to charity, in protest.

“This divisive language and name-calling is inappropriate, especially when we’re talking about the leader of the free world,’’ Wagner said in an interview Thursday.

“We’re looking for a leader that’s going to bring people together and I think that kind of rhetoric is wrong and not what America needs to move forward.”

Still, Wagner – who contended earlier in the week that Trump was behaving like “a Neanderthal” – also was dialing it back.

She acknowledged that Trump has had an impact on the Republican presidential contest, and now leads in many early polls.

“He’s got energy. I think they like the sense that he’s not politically correct all the time,” Wagner said.  Trump’s energy, she added, has helped ignite the entire GOP field and has mesmerized the public.

But Wagner suggests that Trump and the other candidates focus more on ideas and less on personalities.

“It’s time for people to be serious about putting forward real plans, real ideas,” Wagner said.

She acknowledged that she’s supporting former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for president. But Wagner emphasized that she’ll be a loyal Republican, and support whoever gets the nomination.

Left unsaid, but implied, is that Wagner will support Trump if he ends up leading the GOP ticket.

Planned Parenthood fight won’t lead to shutdown

Wagner has been a longtime critic of Planned Parenthood and wants the federal government to end its payments to the organization for family-planning services.

But Wagner is confident the congressional dispute won’t cause a government shutdown, as some Republicans have suggested.

“There may be additional legislation that’s needed. We’ll get to the bottom with the hearings and investigations and move forward from there.”

Wagner is among the Republicans upset over videos produced by an anti-abortion group that imply some Planned Parenthood operations may be illegally profiting from the sale of fetal tissue after abortions.

Planned Parenthood has denied any wrongdoing and says the videos are edited to misrepresent how some clinics handle patients’ fetal-tissue donations for medical research.

Meanwhile, Wagner was asked if there was any issue that she believed could force a congressional budget fight that would result in a government shutdown, as Americans saw in 2013.

The congresswoman replied firmly, “No.”

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