Republican gubernatorial nominee Walker Stapleton spent most of the Republican Primary race telling anyone who would listen about how much he embraces President Trump. Stapleton talked up Trump at every campaign stop and repeated his “support” of the President in every television ad. It was a calculated strategy aimed at locking up Republican Primary voters who love them some Trump, and to that extent, it worked well in ensuring Stapleton an easy victory for the GOP nomination.
But being a fervent Trump supporter doesn’t make the same kind of sense in a General Election that it does in a Republican Primary, and literally minutes after Stapleton had accepted the Republican nomination for Governor, he was squirming and twisting over a simple question about whether he would campaign with Trump:
When I went back for round 2, @WalkerStapleton answered “I’ll welcome the President,” on if he wants @realDonaldTrump campaigning for him in Colorado. (Raw video, I apologize). #copolitics #9NEWS pic.twitter.com/P2WZ7cAgxZ
— Marshall Zelinger (@Marshall9News) June 27, 2018
Here’s what Stapleton told 9News reporter Marshall Zelinger in Zelinger’s second attempt to get an answer on campaigning with Trump:
I’m…I’m going to welcome all Republicans, starting with Bill Owens, who introduced me. I’ll welcome the President. I’ll welcome…uh, uh…the Bush family to Colorado. Anybody who wants to…we have a big tent. And they’re all welcome in Colorado. Governor Weld. You name it.
Stapleton mentions former Governor Bill Owens, his cousins in the Bush family, and even former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld in his rambling effort to avoid the subject of Trump. It is striking that Stapleton is so clearly nervous to be talking about Trump now that he is pivoting to a General Election, but more astonishing is that Stapleton is utterly unprepared to answer what is a very obvious question to be asking a newly-minted Republican nominee for Governor. If you were prepping Stapleton on his post-Primary talking points, responding to the question “Will you campaign with President Trump?” should have been at the top of the list.
Stapleton made his own bed in being so open with his support for Trump and right-wing firebrands like Tom Tancredo. If Stapleton’s General Election strategy is just to pretend that none of this actually happened…well, good luck with that.