The news came via Twitter Friday morning: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was getting off the sidelines and endorsing Ted Cruz in advance of the Hoosier State's presidential primary on Tuesday!
Yeaaahhhhh, sort of. Pence's actual "endorsement" was more like the world's most obvious attempt to have it both ways.
Before he said anything about Cruz, Pence went out of his way to "particularly commend Donald Trump" for, among other things, "giving voice to the frustration of millions of working Americans with the lack of progress in Washington, D.C."
"I'm not against anybody," Pence then added just in case you hadn't realized that yet. "But I will be voting for Ted Cruz in the upcoming primary."
Break out the champagne, Cruz supporters! This thing is over! Close it down!
Except not at all. If you look up "lukewarm endorsement" in the political dictionary, what Pence did on Friday is right there staring back at you. Pence clearly had misgivings — a lot of them — about choosing between Trump and Cruz, and even though he decided to go with the senator from Texas, he wanted to make very clear to all the Trump folks in his state that he didn't hate The Donald or anything close to it.
Why? Because Pence is up for reelection in the fall and knows that even with his endorsement, Trump is still the likely winner of the Indiana primary on May 3. The last thing Pence needs — he's already battling a fired-up Democratic Party because of his advocacy for a religious freedom bill last year — is a revolt within his own party led by Trump voters.
That desire to have it both ways leads to what Pence did on Friday. His I-love-everyone-but-I-love-this-guy-slightly-more endorsement will amount, almost certainly, to a nothingburger at the polls on Tuesday. Ask yourself: If you were a Republican who was on the fence between Cruz and Trump, would ANYTHING that Pence said today change your mind? Heck, he was as — if not more — complimentary of Trump as he was of Cruz!
This is the lamest of all possible outcomes for Pence. If you are going to endorse someone, JUST DO IT. If you really don't want to endorse, then just stand your ground and stay neutral. Trying to kind-of, sort-of endorse doesn't help you or the person you are "endorsing."
This is what happens when politicians try to act too political. Swing and a miss for Pence. And for Cruz.