After Donald refused to endorse Speaker Paul Ryan, RNC Chair Reince Priebus was reportedly “apoplectic.” Then Donald’s veep nominee Mike Pence not only endorsed Ryan, but said Donald “strongly encouraged” him to do so. Who’s getting played here?
To political observers, Donald’s campaign is a slow-motion wreck. His bigotry, erratic behavior, and reflexive attacks on anyone who refuses to genuflect to his self-proclaimed greatness are causing Republicans to defect in growing numbers. His staff is reportedly despondent, and the GOP establishment is reeling.
It’s not even clear, however, that Donald believes anything is broken. And it’s certainly very curious that, according to Pence, he discussed his endorsement of Ryan with Donald, who “strongly encouraged me to endorse Paul Ryan in next Tuesday’s primary, and I’m pleased to do it.”
Unless Pence is lying – and despite my admittedly low opinion of his integrity, I’ve no reason to believe he is – then Donald really did “strongly encourage” him to endorse Ryan, immediately after he himself refused to do so.
Is it merely a response to Priebus’ apoplexy? Has Donald recruited Pence to help him play both sides – I’ll pander to the base; you keep the establishment happy? Who is playing who here?
The thing is, if it’s some sort of strategy, it doesn’t look that way. What it looks like is more disunity and disarray in a campaign already riddled with it.
Former ally to Newt Gingrich, Vin Weber, called Donald’s candidacy “a mistake of historic proportions” for the GOP, and added that not only will he not vote for Donald, but: “I can’t imagine I’d remain a Republican if he becomes president.”
Meanwhile, Gingrich himself, a Donald surrogate who was on the shortlist for veep, said: “The current race is which of these two is the more unacceptable, because right now neither of them is acceptable. …He cannot win the presidency operating the way he is now.”
And Donald’s staff seems to agree:
Donald’s campaign strongman, Paul Manafort, naturally disputes that the campaign is in chaos.
If this is what “good shape” looks like, I’d hate to see what Team Donald thinks “bad shape” would look like.
Even the good-cop, bad-cop strategy – if this is indeed what the Donald-Pence incongruity on endorsing Ryan actually is – just looks like more chaos, following a week of escalating chaos. It’s Week One of the general election, and all the news about Donald is that he’s a jerk and his campaign’s a mess.
Good shape? Yikes.