Even as Donald Trump met behind closed doors with Republican leaders in the Congress on Thursday in Washington, D.C., there was no public rush by GOP lawmakers to get on board the Trump bandwagon, though that didn’t seem to worry Trump’s supporters on Capitol Hill.
“This is too complicated,” said one Trump backer, Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA), who argued GOP lawmakers still need some time to let Trump’s victory sink in.
The best example of those who have not yet endorsed Trump is the man in charge, House Speaker Paul Ryan, who used a meeting with Trump to emphasize the need for him to support “conservative principles.”
“It’s no secret that Donald Trump and I have had our differences,” Ryan said, even as he gave an upbeat assessment of the possibility of uniting the party behind Trump.
The lack of a public endorsement by Ryan did not set off any alarm bells among GOP lawmakers.
“What would you think if he and Donald came out with arms around each other singing kumbaya?” said Rep. Marino (R-PA), who downplayed talk of a rift inside the party.
Speaking to reporters just off the House floor, Marino estimated “there are probably a couple of dozen” Republicans who are resisting Trump at this point; his pitch to those GOP lawmakers is simple.
“If Hillary Clinton is elected, it’s another four years of Obama,” Marino said.
Others who have thrown their support to Trump in recent weeks were using some slightly different logic.
“You don’t always go on the field with a perfect team, but you still go out there to win,” said Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), who says it’s time for Republicans to come together, no matter whether they think Trump is the wrong person for the job.
“The Speaker has got to realize that this could be our only choice, and we’ve got to make the best of it,” Westmoreland added.
No GOP lawmaker that I interviewed this week thought that Ryan would not endorse Trump – “That’s a bunch of (crap),” one Republican emphatically said on Wednesday.
Still, it was obvious again on Thursday that a number of Republicans were still grappling with Trump’s primary victory.
“He’s our nominee,” said a less than enthusiastic Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK). “He’s the only one there.”
And like other GOP lawmakers, Mullin made the case to support Trump mainly by arguing against Hillary Clinton.
“You have Hillary, and you have Donald Trump,” Mullin said, running down a list of reasons why Clinton is not acceptable.
And while Republicans may not like what they have seen from Trump, they have no desire to see Clinton elected .
“We’ve got until November, then hopefully everybody will get on the same team,” said Westmoreland, as the Georgia Republican smiled when talking about those who were not backing Trump as yet.
“Some people are slower to become fans,” he concluded.