Donald Trump sounds like a divisive speaker for a Pennsylvania Republican Party that needs to reach swing voters to win in a moderate state.
Yet the real estate developer is scheduled to appear next week at a marquee fund-raiser for the state GOP in New York City during the annual Pennsylvania Society bash for state business and political leaders.
It's no surprise that Democrats slammed the move, but even some prominent Republican lawmakers facing reelection in Pennsylvania next year are questioning its wisdom. At least three said Tuesday that they would not attend the event, citing scheduling conflicts.
Trump is leading the polls in the Republican presidential race, unharmed by insults he has hurled on the campaign trail at women, minorities, and immigrants.
"I'm not sure that that's the best choice for us, but they made that decision," said Rep. Patrick Meehan of Delaware County, who is supporting Gov. Christie for president and said he would not attend the Trump event.
"In light of some of the comments, it doesn't put the best face [forward] at a time when we are trying to present the ability to solve problems," Meehan said.
Rob Gleason, chairman of the state GOP, said the invitation was not an endorsement of Trump or any of the things he has said. Gleason said that party donors were interested in hearing from a candidate who "has caused a buzz throughout the United States" - and that tickets were selling fast.
"I was a little surprised" by the invitation, said Rep. Charlie Dent of the Lehigh Valley, who co-chairs the moderate Tuesday Group. He said he would not arrive for the annual gathering until Saturday.
"I want to make sure we nominate an individual who will be a benefit to those on the ticket below him or her," Dent said, adding that he wants a nominee who can build coalitions beyond the Republican base. "All I can say is, I have not endorsed him, and I'm not likely to."
Many Republican leaders and strategists around the country fret that Trump would hand the party a landslide loss if he were the nominee, threatening its majority control of the Senate and erasing gains in the House and state legislatures.
"It's not a secret that a lot of Republicans are concerned that a Trump candidacy would hurt down ballot," said Charlie Gerow, a Harrisburg-based GOP strategist.
The worry is most acute in swing states with high-profile Senate races next year, such as Ohio, New Hampshire - and Pennsylvania, where Republican Sen. Pat Toomey is seeking reelection.
Steve Kelly, a spokesman for Toomey's campaign, said a previously scheduled commitment would prevent Toomey from attending the state GOP event.
The annual Commonwealth Club luncheon is scheduled for the Plaza Hotel. Tickets are $1,000 per person, $2,500 for a VIP reception and photo with Trump. The luncheon will be closed to the press, the party said.
Trump announced his campaign in June, calling Mexican immigrants "rapists and murderers." He since has suggested a registry for U.S. Muslims, mocked a reporter's disability, and insists without evidence that he saw Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"By choosing Trump, Republican leaders have simply decided to embarrass themselves," the Harrisburg Patriot-News wrote in an editorial Monday. "They should rescind Trump's invitation and make clear there is no room in the party for his brand of rhetoric."