The Reason Donald Trump Endorsed Paul Ryan

August 6th 2016

Lucy Tiven

Most often, Donald Trump seems to do and say whatever he wants (which is part of his appeal to supporters).

Yet, on Friday at a Wisconsin rally, he endorsed three members of the Republican party that he rather pointedly declined to offer support to earlier in the week: House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), and Sen. John McCain (R-Az.).

On Tuesday, Trump not only opted not to endorse the three aforementioned Republicans — who all voiced criticism of his recent feud with the Khans — but also launched petty jabs at each of them.

“You have a Kelly Ayotte who doesn’t want to talk about Trump, but I’m beating her in the polls by a lot," he told the Washington Post. "You tell me. Are these people that should be representing us, OK? You tell me."

Trump also told the Post that Sen. McCain "should have done a much better job for the vets." He expressed his hesitance to endorse Ryan using almost the exact same language Ryan used earlier this year when said he was not ready to endorse Trump. Trump went on to praise Ryan's primary challenger Paul Nehlen.

The conclusion pundits drew from these remarks was that the ever-thin-skinned Trump once again chose to air personal grievances at the expense of his own party.

Many Republicans found Trump's failure to endorse Ayotte — who is headed for a very tough race, and has said she will vote for Trump despite not formally offering an endorsement — particularly vexing.

As Vox explains, there is a growing sense of unease among Republican party leaders about how Trump's recent outbursts, meltdowns, and drops in polls will impact down-ballot races (i.e. races beyond the presidential race).

When Trump goes off script other Republicans running in House and Senate races can get dragged down with him. They are presented with an uncomfortable position to disavow the GOP nominee, still support him while denouncing his comments, or defend his remarks. Also, if Republicans who feel alienated by Trump stay home from the polls, this also poses a problem for GOP down-ballot candidates.

Without the support of Trump's voter base, the party risks losing control of Congress, worsening the blow of Trump potentially losing the election, which recent polls suggest is increasingly possible.

Murmurs of a Trump intervention have circulated over the past few days — though his campaign manager Paul Manafort has, for his part, denied them — and many high profile Republicans including Dr. Ben Carson and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (both among Trump's small circle of GOP BFFs) chastised the candidate for snubbing Ryan, Ayotte, and McCain. The general sentiment has been that Trump is out of control and unwilling to unify the party.

Whether or not an intervention of any type occurred, Trump certainly flip-flopped on the trio of lawmakers and — in quite a rare moment — did something he appeared to very much not want to do by endorsing them.

So is he finally cleaning up his act?

Though Friday's endorsements might suggest Trump's taken an interest in party unity, he most likely simply caved to pressure.

Though Trump bragged that he was "largely" his own donor (and rehashed a recent incident involving a baby ousted from his rally) before proceeding to endorse his fellow Republicans, his fundraising efforts have recently surged significantly thanks to help from the Republican party establishment, the New York Times explains.

An email blast sent just after Trump extended his olive branch reveals that his campaign is already trying to cash in on it.