But rarely has this kind of politically convenient verbal gymnastics been so blatantly on display than it was today with Rep. Cresent Hardy (R-Nev.). During an unrelated news conference Wednesday, in one sentence, Hardy — one of the most endangered House Republicans this year — flatly said he hadn't endorsed Trump for president. In the very next, he said he supported the GOP nominee for president.
Eagle-eyed Nevada PolitiFact reporter Riley Snyder caught the exchange:
It's pretty clear what happened here. Hardy felt backed into a corner and unsure of what to say, so he defaulted to his talking points: I support but don't endorse.
That's the talking point of a lot of vulnerable congressional Republicans who are trying to square Trump's unpopularity with their sense of duty to the party. Previously, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) was the queen of this.
Here's what the campaign of Ayotte, a popular senator in an epic reelection battle against the state's popular Democratic governor, told the New Hampshire Union Leader in May: "As she’s said from the beginning, Kelly plans to support the nominee. As a candidate herself, she hasn’t and isn’t planning to endorse anyone this cycle."
A Boston Globe columnist nicknamed that "the Ayotte evasion." We put Ayotte at No. 1 on our list of the 10 most tortured responses to Trump (a list that included literally ducking reporters to avoid answering a question on Trump).
But Hardy, for the political nakedness of his answer about Trump, may have just claimed the top spot.