Just days before Indiana’s primary, Governor Mike Pence praised Donald Trump before giving Senator Ted Cruz the most tepid of endorsements. Much of his preamble was given over to commending Cruz rival Donald Trump. Ouch.
I like and respect all three of the Republican candidates in the field. I particularly want to commend Donald Trump who I think has given voice to the frustration of millions of working Americans with a lack of progress in Washington, D.C.
I am also particularly grateful that Donald Trump has taken a strong for Hoosier jobs when we saw jobs of the Carrier company abruptly announcing they are leaving Indiana. Not for another state, but for Mexico.
I am grateful for his voice in the national debate. I have come to my decision of who I am supporting and I am not against anybody, but I will be voting for Ted Cruz in the upcoming Republican primary.
Pence also said he would “encourage every Hoosier to make up their own mind” and that he would support whoever is the eventual nominee of the party. While every elected Republican should be clear that he or she will support the eventual nominee, it had the effect of undercutting his endorsement of Cruz. With friends like these, etc… And the endorsement, such as it is, comes quite late in the cycle. It amounts to, “Trump’s a great guy, but I’m voting for Cruz, do whatever you want.” Thin gruel for the Cruz campaign.
Keep in mind that Pence faces his own re-election in the fall and is certainly wary of alienating any group of Indiana voters. Some might cite his lack of a full throated endorsement of Cruz as cowardice, but this is how federalism works. Everything is not supposed to be bound up in the person and office of the President. State governors have their own concerns and prerogatives, most particularly governing their own states and answering to their constituents. In the modern era, there is a tendency to allow presidential politics to devour everything in their path. But Pence has been a good governor of Indiana and would like to keep his job. That’s federalism in action.
As for Trump, I always thought that if I were campaigning in Indiana I’d rather have legendary Hoosier basketball coach Bobby Knight with me than Mike Pence, but Trump very nearly has both. This is a tough end to a tough week for Senator Cruz who may make his final stand in Indiana next week. With important parts of the Republican establishment starting to break for Trump, support among voters fragile, and some erratic decision-making on the campaign trail, it may be time for Senator Cruz to consider how best to support the eventual Republican nominee and how to take a leadership position in the Senate.