Can a devout Christian make Donald Trump more likeable? Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort seems to think so. Speaking soon after the revelation that Mike Pence will be Trump's running mate, Manafort said Pence will appeal to supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders. That was news to many Bernie Sanders supporters ('Stop telling us what we're thinking. I voted Sanders, I donated to Sanders, and I'll vote for Clinton in November' commented one).
The brutal truth is that both presumptive candidates for president have to make more registered votes in their own party, let alone those outside the tent, like them. This report from Pew Research suggests dislike and distrust are at record measures this year. The report states:
Overall satisfaction with the choice of candidates is at its lowest point in two decades. Currently, fewer than half of registered voters in both parties — 43% of Democrats and 40% of Republicans — say they are satisfied with their choices for president.
Conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt reckons Pence will do the job of the getting the GOP to fall into line. Hewitt's support for Trump comes across as somewhat half-hearted (perhaps, like speaker Paul Ryan, he thinks Trump is not 'his kind of conservative') but Hewitt is firmly in the anyone-but-Hillary camp and is therefore backing Trump. He describes Pence as a 'governing choice' and a:
...perfect fit for both a party in desperate need of bandages and balm, and a decidedly unconventional nominee who, if he indeed rides the wild currents of a turbulent year in a deeply divided country to the White House, will need a partner in the West Wing who can work the Washington corners and conference rooms...
So far, there hasn't been a lot of bandages and balm on display at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Anti-trump protestors have been despatched — for now — but pro-Trump sections continue to trade insults with those Republicans who just don't like the man. Many of the latter, including John Kasich, are staying away. This absence of the GOP Governor from a GOP Convention in his own state is drawing plenty of ire. This from Politico's rundown of Day One:
Manafort said Kasich, who has not endorsed Trump and won’t attend the convention, was “embarrassing his state” on MSNBC and then repeated the sentiment in other appearances.
And when Kasich announced he would speak at the NAACP convention, also being held in Ohio this week, Roger Stone, a longtime Trump confidant not formally in the campaign structure, tweeted, “@JohnKasich is a jerk-off stoner who will never be president.”
Noting that Kasich once signed a pledge to support the nominee, Stone added, "Unity my ass!"
— Roger Stone (@RogerJStoneJr) July 18, 2016
As to the Convention's official proceedings, a speaker line-up heavy on TV celebrities and Trump family members and light on politics (Ivanka Trump told a radio interviewer 'It's not going to be a ho-hum line-up of, you know, the typical politicians') has leant an air of unreality to the event. A contributing factor is the presence of actor Scott Baio, who backed Ronald Reagan and is now behind Trump. Baio is still best known for Happy Days, the 1970s television series set in the 1950s. Those old enough to remember the show will also likely remember the infamous episode in Series 5 when Fonzi jumped a shark on waterskis, a moment that has come to define acts of desperation by television producers.
This could be the week the Republican party jumps the shark.
Photo by John Moore/Getty Images