Mike Pence Endorses John McCain and Kelly Ayotte

Donald Trump declined to endorse McCain.

August 4, 2016, 7:27 PM

— -- After beginning the day by siding with his running mate and declining to explicitly endorse Sens. John McCain and Kelly Ayotte, Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence subsequently reversed course, with an aide confirming he would in fact offer his support for them.

Pence will be supporting every sitting Republican candidate, including Ayotte and McCain.

Earlier in the day, Pence avoided a direct response when asked if he would diverge from Trump and support the two senators in their reelection campaigns. "I look forward to supporting Republican candidates in the days and weeks ahead all over the country, and so does Donald Trump," he told traveling press aboard his plane.

"To restore our country at home and abroad, we need new leadership, and I'm looking forward to standing shoulder to shoulder with Donald Trump to drive that new leadership forward," he added.

The Indiana governor's non-endorsement quickly got some blowback. John Weaver, a former McCain aide (who more recently ran John Kasich's campaign), tweeted that McCain campaigned for Pence when he was “desperate.”

"I remember traveling with John McCain to Indiana to campaign for, several times, for a desperate Mike Pence. Shame on him," Weaver tweeted.

An aide, however, said Pence was not explicitly declining to endorse, but was dodging the question.

Pence met privately with McCain on Tuesday while campaigning in Phoenix and heaped praise on the Arizona senator.

“Sen. McCain has provided the kind of leadership throughout his career that has stood up for our military stood up for a strong America and we talked about that and the need to have the kind of leadership in the White House that will rebuild the military,” he told ABC affiliate KNXV.

Pence's comments on McCain come a day after he broke with Trump over whether to endorse Paul Ryan in his reelection campaign. Trump said he was "not there yet" but Pence on Wednesday morning said he strongly supported the current Speaker of the House.

At a rally on Thursday, Trump said Pence had called him to ask for his permission to endorse Ryan.

"I say, 'Mike, you like him, yes. Go ahead and do it. 100 percent.' And he endorsed him," Trump said.

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