"We need the unity": Trump endorses Ryan -- and McCain and Ayotte

“We will be the big tent party,” Donald Trump declared at a campaign rally in Wisconsin last night, “and as a unified party, we will lead our country to unity as well.” Citing Ronald Reagan’s maxim that an 80% friend is not a 20% enemy, Trump moved to mend some fences with an arguably overdue endorsement of Paul Ryan. Calling him “a good man and a good guy,” Trump said the country needed Ryan to remain as Speaker of the House:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceyk2N1dkTI

Following that, Trump immediately embraced John McCain in his re-election bid for the Senate:

Immediately after that, Trump performed the hat trick by endorsing Kelly Ayotte in her Senate re-election bid in New Hampshire, too, where Trump’s standing has taken a significant beating this week. Trump’s supporters seemed a bit non-plussed by this sudden string of party business from the iconoclast. Ryan’s favorite-son status in Wisconsin prompted big cheers for his endorsement, but the applause decrescendoed significantly for McCain and Ayotte.  Ben Jacobs referred to this as a hostage video, but it actually looks more poised and prepared than we’ve seen Trump since the convention.

Of course, there’s a reason for that — it’s clear that Trump’s reading off of a script for the endorsements. At one point he picks up the paper and reads directly off from it during the Ryan endorsement, and he spends most of his time looking down at the podium during the McCain endorsement as well. What does that mean? It doesn’t (necessarily) mean that Trump doesn’t mean it, or that he’s being forced to endorse then at all. That preparation and discipline shows how important the campaign, if not the candidate, believes these endorsements to be for the future of the campaign. Team Trump and perhaps Trump himself didn’t want to screw up these statements, nor this opportunity to show that they’ve gotten the message and need to start looking presidential, or at least prepared.

Of course, this leaves Paul Nehlen out in the cold for the last four days of his quixotic campaign. How did he react? By saluting the windmills (via Twitchy):

We’ve all been scratching our heads at Nehlen’s quest. An endorsement of his hero’s endorsement of his opponent is Peak Nehlen.

Ed Morrissey Jan 28, 2022 8:31 AM ET