Writing for Politico, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee published an op-ed explaining numerous factors on why Republicans should all now be in unison behind Donald Trump. He explains why the RNC is rightfully so Donald’s show, details the compact the Republican presidential contenders made during the primaries, and goes into how Trump rose the old fashion way (he won the most votes).
Courtesy of Politico, here is Huckabee’s op-ed:
“Breaking News! If Ted Cruz, John Kasich and others don’t endorse Donald Trump, they won’t be invited to speak at the Republican National Convention!” So the anchors all urgently reported earlier this week.
That’s not breaking news—that’s breaking wind. Of course politicians who refuse to endorse Trump shouldn’t be speaking. As someone who has not only attended but spoken at every GOP convention in some capacity since 1992, I can assure you that not only has the GOP presidential nominee (George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney) controlled every detail of the convention down to who sings the national anthem and who closes in prayer, but every word of every speech is approved in advance by the nominee’s team.
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To pretend that Trump is being heavy-handed by saying that those who don’t endorse him won’t speak is not only unfair, it also misses the bigger story: Why aren’t we talking about the outright lie told by a number of my fellow GOP presidential contenders on national television during the very first debate in August of 2015? We were asked point blank if we would support the eventual nominee who survived the primary process and won the nomination. And we all said “yes” except for Trump, who declared that he wanted to make sure he was treated “fairly.” Not long after, Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman, went to Trump’s New York office and extracted from him a pledge that he would also support the nominee of the party.
It’s not at all unusual for the nominee to make sure that the convention is a carefully produced “show” that essentially serves as a mini-series for television to sell the candidate. It’s exactly what the Democrats do as well. There hasn’t been any drama or unscripted moments since George H. W. Bush picked Dan Quayle to be his running mate in 1988, or the brief unscripted moment during the 2012 Republican Convention when Clint Eastwood gave us the “empty chair speech,” which I thought was the best moment of the entire convention precisely because it wasn’t scripted!
Donald Trump was not my first choice for president—I was my first choice. But for reasons that I don’t and will never fully understand, that’s not how the voters saw it. Trump won the nomination the old fashioned way—he got the most votes. He received far more votes than any Republican in the history of the primaries. More than Ronald Reagan, the Bushes, McCain and the utterly discredited Mitt Romney, who has shamefully and sadly shown his petulance as he leaves the political stage in disgrace, having gladly accepted Trump’s money and endorsement in 2012, only to become a “Never Trumper” and de-facto Hillary Clinton champion in 2016.
I wasn’t all that happy to walk away from a good income and a good life and give a year of my life spending 25 days or more a month living in hotels and running to catch flights between Iowa, South Carolina and states where I was trying to raise funds. It has been frustrating to know that the message I championed about trade, the decline of the middle class, the need to manufacture in the United States, support for veterans and a more innovative approach to health care that focused on prevention rather than expensive intervention was mirrored by Donald Trump. The only difference was that the networks covered his every speech, his every tweet, and focused on him in the debates, while guys like me and others who had very accomplished tenures in office were relegated to the sidelines because of our unwillingness to engage in the blood sport of trashing the other Republicans on the stage, including Trump. I was saving my artillery for the opponent I know best—Clinton, and not my fellow Republicans.
But we all agreed that we would support whoever survived that cage match. I have kept my word, and I am supporting Donald Trump and will gladly do so because I respect the voters and the process and accept the verdict. There were some on that stage I would have had a far more difficult time supporting than Trump. But if one of them had earned the nomination, I would have sucked it up and been true to my pledge to support the nominee—not just because I promised (though that is reason enough), but because as well as I know the other Republicans, I know Clinton better. I served 10 and a half years as governor of Arkansas, where the Clintons lived and served. It was the Clintons who left behind the government I inherited.
Should Cruz, Kasich, Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham or any of the others not own up to their nationally televised promise to support the GOP nominee whoever it was, they most certainly should not get near the stage at the RNC. And we all should remember that they would have expected us to support them had they been the nominee, but in a crucial moment for America, they decided to help Obama have a third term by helping Clinton.
Donald Trump met with Senator Cruz in Washington on Thursday and reportedly offered him a speaking slot at the convention. That was a gracious and generous offer from Trump. According to Senator Cruz, there was not a requirement to endorse. Let’s hope that the senator will reciprocate the kind gesture and use a speech as the occasion to honor his nationally televised pledge to do so. If he can’t do that, he should quietly decline the speaking slot.
But please, media—don’t intimate that it’s Trump who’s being petty by not giving precious stage and air time to those who lied to their own party and violated their pledge. He ran, he won, and like it or not, the convention is his show. There isn’t room on our Republican stage for someone who can’t be trusted to keep his or her promise.”