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President Trump’s trade agenda threatens to divide Republicans, two prominent conservatives said in an interview with the Washington Examiner’s weekly podcast.

Matt Schlapp, and his wife, Mercedes Schlapp, organizers of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, told “Examining Politics” that trade is the one issue they see as having the potential to drive a wedge between the populist wing of the Republican Party, energized by Trump, and traditional conservatives who hail from the base of the GOP established by President Ronald Reagan.

“There is a bit of a concern on the trade issue,” Mercedes Schlapp said. “That’s one of the issues that conservatives are — I don’t necessarily see them on necessarily the same page when President Trump talks about tariffs, or this protectionist type of mentality. I think that does raise a bit of a red flag when it comes to conservatives.”

“Let me push back on that,” Matt Schlapp said. “You’re right, that in each one of these topic areas, Donald Trump could take it to a place where there would be division.”

He added: “When it comes to trade, he’s actually talking about making it easier to do business in this country; big tax cuts, regulatory rollback. Yes, he brings up tariffs but he hasn’t done anything in terms of tariffs, which I think would be unpopular with a lot of Republicans. So, I think you’re right, Mercy, it could get to a place where there are divisions.”

Overall, however, the Schlapps said that conservative Republicans and Trump populists are united under Trump — excited about what he and the GOP Congress can accomplish together. “The fact that he is doing the things he talked about doing keeps that marriage really strong,” Matt Schlapp said.

The Schlapps talked to “Examining Politics” as a preview of this year’s CPAC, scheduled for Feb. 22-25, just outside of Washington, D.C. In addition to Vice President Mike Pence, guest speakers are likely to include multiple high-ranking administration officials. “Let’s just say, the people from the administration they want to see will be there,” Schlapp said, hinting at big-name Republicans to be announced at a later date.

“Examining Politics” is available on PodcastOne.com, iTunes and the Examiner’s website.

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