When I was turning out faith-based voters for George W. Bush in 2000, John McCain refused to endorse or even meet with Bush for two months after losing the nomination. The idea that Speaker Paul Ryan not endorsing Donald Trump on the spot, a week before they met, hurts Trump’s campaign is ridiculous.
When McCain and Bush finally met two months after Bush wrapped up the nomination, the Guardian reported McCain’s belated endorsement was “tepid,” and that his body language showed he was not enthusiastic. Yet Bush went on to win despite President Bill Clinton enjoying 60 percent approval ratings throughout the campaign (see Gallup graph).
Now the narrative is that President Obama’s 52 percent approval rating in Gallup polls, coupled with a divided party in which the highest ranking Republican in the land said he was meeting with the presumptive nominee in a week, spells doom.
I had the same experience with Paul Ryan when I had a minute to talk with him at the Wisconsin State GOP Convention last year. I asked if he would support bringing back the Reagan-era tax credit that allowed people to keep the first $200 they were going to send the IRS and instead send it to a candidate of their choice.
Ryan did not “immediately endorse my plan.” He is a deliberative leader. He asked questions to let me spell out the states that used a similar system, and how much less revenue they received. That gave me a chance to put together information (e.g. the plan only keeps $821,000 a year from Virginia state coffers, and voter participation in states that use it was at 68% to 58%). If reporters had been there, I guess they could have written headlines saying, “Ryan refuses to re-instate Reagan-era tax credit, Republicans in disarray!”