Trump denies that he offered Kasich the job.
John Kasich was never asked by me to be V.P. Just arrived in Cleveland - will be a great two days!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 20, 2016
But here's the thing: Donald Jr.'s reported comments are entirely consistent with the campaign that Trump has run — and the Republican electorate has embraced him for it.
An anti-establishment movement, which has in recent years cast out Republican officeholders for their impurities under the banner of the tea party, is now embracing a nominee who is completely impure in terms of his conservatism. Donald Trump very much speaks in the same tones as the tea party, but he doesn't try to pass any litmus test. Never has.
And as he has risen to become the GOP's presidential nominee, something else appears to have happened: His party stopped caring about purity — or even the issues — very much. The party where abortion rights candidates have been persona non grata for decades nominated a guy who previously endorsed partial-birth abortion. The nominee of the "Read my lips: No new taxes" party has even flirted with raising some taxes on the wealthy.
So how has the party of purity come to embrace him? By worrying more about the man and less about the issues.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll last week tells the tale. The poll asked how important a number of issues were to Americans — and Republicans were often much less worried about them.
Pursuing the best path on race relations? Eighty-seven percent of Democrats said it was "extremely" or "very" important to elect someone with the right plan; just 66 percent of Republicans agreed.
Having the right trade stance? Democrats: 66 percent said it's at least very important. Republicans: 54 percent.
The proper abortion policies? Democrats: 68 percent. Republicans: 57 percent.
Gun rights? Democrats: 82 percent. Republicans: 65 percent.
The only issue tested on which Republicans care about policy as much as Democrats is immigration. But that's because it's less a priority for Democrats than these other issues. About two-thirds of both Democrats (66 percent) and Republicans (65 percent) say being right on this issue is very important in a candidate.
Which brings us to the chicken-and-egg question. Did Republicans pick Trump because they stopped caring about the issues, or did they stop caring about the issues because they picked Trump and because he's not really an issues candidate?
An educated guess: The purity thing was always more about being anti-establishment and shaking up the system than being pure. In fact, there were plenty of "tea party candidates" with less-than-ideal conservative credentials. But they ran against entrenched politicians who just happened to have records that could be picked apart for impurities. And what's more, securing support from outside groups, which tend to be more conservative, often involved running to an establishment candidate's right.
And in contrast with the numbers above, Republicans embraced this quest for purity. Compromise became a dirty word. A 2013 Pew poll showed that 59 percent of Democrats preferred politicians who compromise to get things done rather than take principled stands. Among Republicans, just 36 percent agreed.
There is limited polling on this question, so it's hard to craft an accurate narrative, but an NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll after the 2014 election showed even Republicans beginning to warm to the idea of compromise and emphasizing purity less. By that point, a plurality of Republicans preferred compromise.
And now we have Trump, the man who promises to make American great again and make the best deals, the very best deals. The details of those deals are up to Trump. And Republicans, more than in recent years, are willing to give him room to negotiate.