When is an endorsement not an endorsement? When a politician says so. In these heady days of Trump, big-name Republicans may say they’ll vote for him, others will speak at his rallies, still others greet him at his rallies before they begin. But unless they say the word “endorsement,” they seem comfortable denying it.
Perhaps the best case preceding Tuesday’s Connecticut primary is state House Minority Leader Themis Klarides. At a Trump rally Saturday in Bridgeport, Klarides spoke to the amped-up Trump crowd. She says he job was asked to speak about Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy and the majority Democrats in the General Assembly.
In that mission she fumbled the ball. She suggested to the crowd, “…take your deep hatred for Dan Malloy and put it over here for the next six months.” Yikes. Speaking at an event for a man who has been accused at times of promoting discrimination with hate speech, perhaps Klarides should lose the word “hate.” I’m sure most of the people at the rally disagree with Malloy, think he’s doing a monumentally horrible job as governor, but “hate?”—even, “deep hate?” Get a thesaurus.
Klarides says the fact that she spoke at a big rally (estimated 1,400 people) for Donald Trump doesn’t mean she endorses Donald Trump. In fact, she says she has to remain neutral because she is a leader in the General Assembly. Really? Wouldn’t taking a stand on a crucial question of our time be the definition of leadership?
If Klarides had no degree of separation when she spoke at the Trump rally, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim chose to keep Trump only at arm’s length. Ganim was backstage and greeted Trump before the rally started. Gamin spokesman Av Harris told me, “[Ganim] is not supporting Trump for President. He’s supporting Hillary Clinton very strongly. Mr. Trump came to a rally in Bridgeport today and Mayor Ganim greeted him for about five minutes backstage, as he would welcome any visiting dignitary to Bridgeport. It was the courteous thing to do.”
Fair enough. I’m not going to question how Ganim does things. He operates under his own rules and succeeds. Of course, the mayor has a history with Trump. But it was pre-prison and nothing came of it.
Then there are the ultimate parsers like former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. “America’s Mayor” says he will vote for Donald Trump but does not endorse him. What? Giuliani will cast a vote for president for the guy but won’t tell others they should as well? Way to have the courage of your convictions, Mr. Mayor.