Days after Donald Trump refused to endorse Republicans up for tough re-election in the Senate, his Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence threw his full support behind Senators John McCain (R-Ariz) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.).
At first, Pence was noncommittal when asked whether or not he would endorse the two Senators for re-election on Aug. 4, telling reporters while on a plane: “I look forward to supporting Republican candidates in the days and weeks ahead all over the country, and so does Donald Trump.”
However, Pence’s senior adviser Mike Short later said that his “non-answer” was not a signal of non-endorsement. In a WTKR Transcript shared by the campaign with Epoch Times, Pence clarified his endorsement for McCain and Ayotte.
“Well of course I support John McCain and Kelly Ayotte and all of our Republican incumbents,” he said.
“This is a year when there’s a movement far beyond the Republican Party to really make America great again and I think Donald Trump and renewed leadership on Capitol Hill is exactly what we need,” he continued.
Pence’s remarks follow Trump’s statements on Tuesday when he refused to endorse three Republican Senators up for reelection in November in an interview with the Washington Post—McCain, Ayotte, and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
“I like Paul, but these are horrible times for our country. We need very strong leadership. We need very, very strong leadership. And I’m just not quite there yet. I’m not quite there yet,” Trump said in the Post interview.
The next day, Pence came out and endorsed Ryan: “I strongly support Paul Ryan, strongly endorse his re-election,” he said in a phone interview with Fox News.
“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,” he continued.
The perceived split on the ticket was disputed by Pence who said that Trump “strongly encouraged me to endorse Paul Ryan in next Tuesday’s primary.”
However, the split in opinion also comes at a crucial moment in the campaign when the Republican Party and Trump have had tense relations following Trump’s remarks about the family of a U.S. Army captain killed in Iraq and falling poll numbers.
At a townhall in Raleigh, North Carolina, Matthew Schricker an 11-year-old-boy asked Pence whether or not his job in the White House was going to be “softening up on” Donald Trump’s words. Pence responded: “What I’ve learned, Matthew, and you’ll learn it when you’re governor of North Carolina … Sometimes things don’t come out the way that you mean them,” Pence said.
“I couldn’t be more proud to stand with Donald Trump,” Pence added.