Republican leaders nationwide are split over what to do if Donald Trump is the GOP nominee for president.
But on the Democratic side, the strategy is to tie Republican politicians to Trump. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory became the latest target Wednesday after his campaign spokesman said McCrory would support whoever wins the GOP nomination.
The N.C. Democratic Party sent out a news release Wednesday with the headline, “McCrory to back Trump as nominee.” Later, the national Democratic Governors Association sent out its own release with the headline, “NC Gov Backs Trump As Other Govs Back Away.”
And a progressive group based in Washington, D.C., the American Bridge 21st Century PAC, sent out a message with the headline, “Gov. McCrory All In For The #PartyOfTrump.”
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But McCrory has yet to publicly back any specific presidential candidate.
“The governor will support the party’s nominee,” McCrory campaign spokesman Ricky Diaz earlier told the Winston-Salem Journal, in a statement that spurred Wednesday’s Democratic flurry. “The governor has not endorsed a candidate in the primary and believes the process should work out on its own.”
After the flurry of press releases Wednesday, Diaz said that the groups sending them out “must think that North Carolinians are stupid.”
Unlike McCrory, some other Republican governors actually have endorsed Trump – including New Jersey’s Chris Christie and Maine’s Paul LePage — as well as former governors Sarah Palin of Alaska and Jan Brewer of Arizona.
“The governor has been very clear that he’s letting the process work out on its own and isn’t getting involved because he’s focusing on rebuilding North Carolina,” Diaz said of McCrory. “He hasn’t endorsed a candidate in the primary and will support whoever the eventual Republican nominee is.”
North Carolina Democrats are looking for an edge in a governor’s race that seems competitive. Polls have shown that if Attorney General Roy Cooper wins the Democratic primary for governor, he could pose a strong challenge to McCrory’s re-election bid in November.
“Donald Trump would be a disaster as president, and North Carolinians should be embarrassed that Governor McCrory would even consider helping him get there,” N.C. Democratic Party Chair Patsy Keever said in the state party’s news release Wednesday.
Doran: 919-836-2858; Twitter: @will_doran