The website Talking Points Memo (TPM) is doing a public service by keeping a scorecard of where elected Republicans stand vis a vis Donald Trump. They have split them up into five categories 1) Endorse, 2) “Supporting the Nominee”, 3) Mum’s the Word, 4) Fuzzball and 5) NeverTrump and are tracking their movements across categories. You can see the definitions of those terms here.
Expect a deluge of video compilations of Republican who have attacked Trump harshly in the past and who now start shifting course, such as the people in this video.
One key person to watch is Ted Cruz. He said very nice things about Trump early in the race when Trump was attacking other candidates. That seemed to be a good strategy for Cruz at the time because it enabled him to keep a relatively low profile while Trump attacked his rivals and drove them out of the race. But as we can see, it seems to have worked even better for Trump because it enabled him too to divide his opponents into factions.
Once all but John Kasich dropped out, Cruz unleashed a barrage of criticisms of Trump in the days before he too dropped out. His words will be the freshest in people’s minds because they were said as recently as Tuesday so he will have to wait awhile before he makes any move towards Trump. Since he clearly has ambitions to run again for president in the future, it would seem like he has no choice but to support the party nominee this time without being seen as a traitor. But Cruz has not been shy in the past about not going along with the party hierarchy as can be seen by how detested he is by them. He may think it a good strategy to say that he cannot in good conscience endorse Trump but that he will not actively work against him. He can then lie low during the entire election, hope that Trump loses so badly that his own defection cannot be blamed for the loss, and then come back in 2020 as the ‘principled conservative’.
Another list of people that will be interesting to observe are those prominent Republicans who say they will not be attending the Republican convention in Cleveland in July. There is going to be a grave shortage of so-called elder statesmen. Mitt Romney, the 2012 nominee, is not going, which is not surprising since he was one of the most energetic in trying to deny Trump the nomination, even though Trump endorsed Romney in 2012 and raised money for his campaign. The 2008 nominee John McCain also plans to skip the convention and former presidents George W. Bush (2000, 2004) and George H. W. Bush (1988, 1992) have said that they are not going to endorse anyone this year and will likely skip it too, since they skipped the 2012 one. The only living former nominee to attend will be the 1996 one Bob Dole who has not yet said whether he will endorse Trump.