The negotiations between Donald Trump and Paul Ryan may be ongoing, but there are more and more names of formerly reticent Republicans who are slowly but surely preparing for battle against Hillary Clinton and lining up behind the presumptive nominee. One of the more prominent figures recently in the news is Indiana Governor Mike Pence. You may recall that he stayed on the fence for quite a while as the critical nature of his state’s GOP primary vote became more and more obvious. At the eleventh hour he endorsed Ted Cruz, but only after delivering plenty of kind words for Trump in the event that the polls were right and he prevailed. (Spoiler alert… they were.)
Given the team attitude Pence displayed at that time it may not surprise you to learn that he’s now decided not to wait for Paul Ryan to get onboard and has backed The Donald as our last shot at keeping Hillary Clinton out of the Oval Office. (Politico)
Less than a week after proclaiming to Indiana voters that he would vote for Ted Cruz in his state’s primary — a tepid endorsement that featured high praise for Donald Trump — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has made it official: He is all in for the presumptive Republican nominee.
“I’m fully supportive of our presumptive nominee, and I do think Donald Trump will do well in the State of Indiana,” Pence told reporters, according to Indianapolis’ Fox affiliate. “I’m going to campaign hard for the Republican nominee because Indiana needs a partner in the White House.”
In case Paul Ryan is keeping a scorecard in his office, some of his top lieutenants in the lower chamber are not only getting out ahead of him for the “Trump Train” but are confused as to what’s taking him so long. The latest two are Republican Whips Lynn Westmoreland and Dennis Ross.
Two prominent House allies of Paul Ryan broke with the speaker Friday over his decision to withhold support from Donald Trump, comments that point to a growing split among congressional Republicans over how to deal with the presumptive nominee.
Reps. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia and Dennis Ross of Florida — who, as House whips, help Republican leaders muster support to pass legislation — told POLITICO in interviews on Friday that they disagreed with Ryan’s decision to break with Trump in a bombshell interview a day earlier. Both lawmakers said they believe their leader is in denial about how Republican voters feel about the real-estate tycoon.
“I honestly don’t understand what Paul’s thinking — I don’t get it,” said Westmoreland, who is retiring after this year. “I try not to give advice to the speaker, but I think it just really brought about, in my opinion, even more confusion to this thing.”
I’m with Westmoreland on this one. While it may not be helping matters any in terms of preventing Hillary Clinton from being the next president, there are any number of Republican officials who can choose to withhold their endorsement and sit out the election, but the Speaker is in a unique position. He’s not just the head of the party in the House, but will also have to be the master of ceremonies at the convention. Being the one to stand up and declare Trump the nominee after withholding his support would be awkward at best. But the reality is that Ryan has still not said he would never endorse Donald Trump, no matter how it’s being portrayed in the media. He just said he wasn’t there yet and is clearly looking for some signs of unity in the ranks before making an endorsement.
That may be hard to tell from many cable news outlets. The more liberal ones are busy inviting every Republican official and conservative blogger they can find from the remaining #NeverTrump ranks onto their shows. The motivation is obvious, since hosts like Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow would never spit on some of these conservative writers if their hair were on fire, but for now it makes for some popcorn chomping entertainment if they can dish up any Republican on Republican violence. Expect that pattern to continue for as long as they feel they can gain any additional advantage for Hillary Clinton by setting up conservatives as media pawns to build a narrative of dissent among the ranks.
As with all things, this too shall pass. It’s obviously going to be a slow process, with some hanging on to help Hillary to the bitter end, but the party appears to be gradually coming into line. Bob Dole was one of the latest to give the green light, shortly after Mike Huckabee. Others will be coming along in their own time, and it’s not because they’ve suddenly fallen in love with or forgiven Donald Trump. They’re simply waking up to the reality that Hillary Clinton is still out there waiting.