One day after Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump made a point of refusing to endorse GOP Speaker of the House Paul Ryan in his Wisconsin Congressional district run against a primary challenger on Aug. 9, Mike Pence, Trump’s own running mate, has decided to break away and “strongly” endorse Ryan in a public announcement that appears to signal increasing polarization in the Trump camp.
"I strongly support Paul Ryan, strongly endorse his re-election," stated Pence unequivocally, in a phone interview with Fox News on Wednesday. "He is a longtime friend. He's a strong conservative leader. I believe we need Paul Ryan in leadership in the Congress of the United States."
24 hours prior, Donald Trump himself made the unprecedented move of refusing to support his own (adopted) party’s Congressional speaker. Echoing Ryan’s own words during the Republican presidential primaries, Trump chided that he was "not quite there yet,” declining to support Ryan’s easy-win incumbent campaign run Wisconsin's 1st Congressional district.
Instead, Trump went ahead and thanked Ryan’s challenger, Paul Nehlen, for saying nice things about him.
Thanks to @pnehlen for your kind words, very much appreciated.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2016
Trump’s approach to politics, and world affairs for that matter, is transactional in nature. You do/say something nice about me, I do the same for you, regardless of your policies, beliefs, or actions. We saw the same conditional support when Trump flirted with Vladimir Putin after the Russian dictator called the real estate mogul a “very lively man, talented without a doubt.”
Clearly, the love Trump shares with Putin doesn’t extend to Paul Ryan. Speaker Ryan’s recent remarks about Trump’s feud with Gold Star military families likely prompted a reflexive reaction from Trump, a common occurrence during this year’s election cycle.
Pence’s breakaway with Trump means there’s trouble in Trumparadise, despite the campaign’s attempts to play down the rift. “I talked to Donald Trump this morning about my support for Paul Ryan, our longtime friendship,” stressed Pence “He strongly encouraged me to endorse Paul Ryan in next Tuesday’s primary. And I’m pleased to do it. But look, this is all part of a process of bringing a party together.”
Whether this is true or not may be up for debate, but what is clear is that trying to fit square-pegged Pence into Trump’s big round hole isn’t working.
The two have split on a myriad of issues in the past, including Trump’s wholesale Muslim immigration ban and free trade agreements like NAFTA and TPP.
Pence isn’t the only one that Trump is having a hard time getting along with; recent reports from GOP insiders are suggesting that RNC chairman Reince Priebus is livid over Trump’s refusal to endorse Ryan.
The Trump campaign is falling apart at the seams and the only person that can’t seem to acknowledge is Donald Trump.