INDIANAPOLIS — Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence’s pick to take his place as Indiana governor isn’t guaranteeing that Donald Trump will get his vote for president.
Republican Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Pence hasn’t pressured him to support Trump following the release Friday of Trump’s crude comments about groping women.
“It is my full intent to support the Republican nominee, but no one should ever take my vote for granted,” said Holcomb, who is also a former state Republican chairman. “Over the coming 30 days, I’ll evaluate it each day as we go forward.”
Holcomb made the nominating speech for Pence during the Republican National Convention in July. The Republican state committee picked Holcomb as the party’s new gubernatorial candidate the following week after Pence endorsed him over two U.S. House members also seeking the nomination.
He is locked in a close campaign with Democrat John Gregg, a former Indiana House speaker who narrowly lost to Pence in the 2012 election.
Holcomb called Trump’s remarks “disturbing, unsettling, disappointing” but said the alternative of Democrat Hillary Clinton becoming president was “unsatisfactory.” He said Pence wasn’t pushing him to advocate for Trump.
“I think he wants me to focus on doing my job here first and, secondly, running a successful campaign,” Holcomb said.
No prominent Republican officials in Indiana have publicly retracted their support for Trump.
Rep. Todd Young, the Republican candidate for U.S. senator against Democrat Evan Bayh, has tried to avoid talking about Trump for several months and his campaign didn’t grant a request for a phone interview on Tuesday.
“The majority of Hoosiers Todd speaks with are still supporting Donald Trump despite their deep reservations, because it’s the only way to ensure we don’t have another four years like the last eight as Hillary Clinton and Evan Bayh would ensure,” Young’s campaign said in a statement.
Bayh and Gregg have resisted Republican attempts to tie them to Clinton in a state the GOP has won in 11 of the last 12 presidential elections. They both were prominent Clinton supporters during Indiana’s 2008 Democratic primary when she narrowly beat then-Sen. Barack Obama.
Indiana Democratic chairman John Zody maintained Tuesday that controversies surrounding Clinton differed from the extensiveness of Trump’s contentious remarks, including that Indiana-born federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel had an “absolute conflict” in presiding over a lawsuit brought by former Trump University students because he is “of Mexican heritage.”
Zody said it was apparent “zero circumstances” existed under which Indiana Republicans would break with Trump.
“They are, in fact, putting party over country by either their silence or their 100 percent full support of Donald Trump,” Zody said.