Stump, a conservative journalist who jumped into politics in his 20s, had the tougher sell. As in the debate, he admits it: He had not supported Trump. In his defense, it was because he worried that the president was not conservative enough.

“This was a candidate who’d donated to Democrats, who’d dabbled with the Reform Party and who, I thought, would throw the election to Hillary Clinton,” Stump said in an interview. “I have been pleasantly surprised, and I tell everyone who asks that I’ve been pleasantly surprised.”

Stump still differed from his competition with a policy critique. The president, he said, was wrong to put a tariff on solar panels — but that’s about it. And having vetted his Trump supporters, opponents had already moved on to attacking him for ditching his first name — Christopher — when he began a career in politics among Republicans who remember a long-serving and deceased politician named Bob Stump.