Local GOP candidates: Will you vote for Trump?

image via wikipedia

image via wikipedia

Have an answer ready for this question: "Will you vote for Trump?"

The media love this question. It makes for a good story any time a journalist can relate what they're covering to Donald Trump, because Trump gets clicks.

Look at these stories this week: "Dems to prod GOP governors on Trump," "How to explain which republicans will support Trump, and which won't" and "Rep. Smith says he will support Trump if he is GOP nominee.

At the March 3rd GOP debate, Fox closed by asking each candidate if they would support the eventual nominee. Despite two hours of debate, answers to that question became the story of the night. Marco Rubio spent the final week of his campaign answering this question on a daily basis. Reince Priebus, the chairman of the RNC, is asked this question. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gets asked this question. Speaker Paul Ryan regularly gets asked this question. 

It's only a matter of time before every GOP candidate for Congress gets asked the question. Journalists looking for a good story are going to ask GOP candidates for state legislature this question. And it's very possible GOP-leaning candidates for city council get asked the question.

Don't get caught off guard. Have an answer ready. 

How should you answer the question? 

This primarily depends on personal preference. If you plan to vote for Trump, you should say yes. If you don't, say no. But be ready to have an explanation for why. 

High profile politicians like Cruz, Rubio, Ryan and McConnell get the benefit of having some nuance to their answers explained by journalists. You probably won't get that benefit. So have a short answer, but be prepared to expand in case you're asked a follow up question. 

For example:

"Yes, I'm voting for Trump because DC is broken and needs to be shaken up."

"No, I won't vote for Trump because I can't explain to my kids that I supported a candidate who encourages political violence." 

Examples of good answers

Below are a few examples of how other candidates have answered the question. 

Answering "Yes"
Sen. Ted Cruz says he will support Donald Trump. His reason is that he signed a pledge to support the eventual nominee, and he says he intends to stand by that pledge. If you will vote for Trump, consider saying something like this about commitment to the party. Rewind this video and see Sen. Rubio's answer at the same debate: he focused on how bad Sec. Clinton is, and that may be a good answer for you as well. 

Answering "No"
Sen. Marco Rubio, the day after the Chicago protests at a Trump rally. The video begins just before Sen. Rubio is asked if he'll support Trump as the nominee. The words he uses aren't what is worth noting - the emotion is. He is clearly struggling with the answer. Don't try to fake emotion, but if you're genuinely frustrated with Trump as the nominee, showing that is fine. Scroll back and watch the entire video for a dozen reasons you might use if you intend not to support Trump. 

Sen. Ben Sasse says "I'm pro-constitution. And if being pro-constitution makes me anti-Trump, then that's his problem." Consider using some variation of "I'm pro-[fill-in-the-blank], and if that makes me anti-Trump, that's his problem." Be ready for the follow up question. 

Be aware of the media calendar

Keep in mind when you might be asked about Trump. If Trump gets the GOP nomination, he's going to be on the news 24/7. So any time you have an event with media invited, you may be asked to react his latest comments. 

But there are also other times you may get a call from the media specifically to address something. Know when your state's presidential primary is. In many cases the local party will choose its delegates a few weeks after the primary. That could be another newsworthy event that could prompt a question. 

The GOP convention is July 18-21 and you could be asked just before or after.  The presidential debates for the general election are September 26th, October 9th and October 19th. 

Most important: be authentic

When answering the question, be authentic. Authenticity matters with candidates. Use the examples above to help you with lines or with specific examples, but say what you truly think. Explain why you truly think the country needs Trump. Or say why you think that Trump is such a danger that you're not willing to support your party's nominee. 

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