Republican Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana has endorsed Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. The Indiana governor equivocated his endorsement by also lavishing praise of Cruz’s rival, Donald Trump.
On Apr. 29, Cruz signaled that Pence was likely to endorse him, encouraging reporters to tune in to WIBC, a conservative radio station in Indianapolis, according to POLITICO.
The senator added that Pence was “an incredible leader of the state of Indiana.”
Pence’s impending endorsement ran counter to GOP front-runner Trump’s prediction that the governor would recuse himself from taking a side on the upcoming Indiana primary.
“I met with him,” Trump told CNN on Apr. 27. “He may not endorse. I don’t think he’ll endorse anybody, actually, and he may endorse us. I don’t know. He’s a great guy.”
The business mogul dismissed the idea that Pence was going to endorse Cruz.
The Indiana race is considered crucial for Cruz's campaign to deny Trump the delegates necessary to reach the 1,237 necessary to clinch the party's nomination.
Republican presidential candidate Gov. John Kasich of Ohio pulled his resources out of the state to give Cruz a stronger chance of toppling the business mogul.
Now Pence has thrown his support behind Cruz, although he did praise Trump profusely.
“I particularly want to commend Donald Trump, who I think have given voice to the frustration of millions of working Americans with a lock of progress in Washington, D.C.,” Pence told radio host Greg Garrison.
The governor added, “I’m grateful for his voice in the national debate.”
Despite showering Trump with praise, Pence proceeded to endorse his rival.
“I’ve come to my decision about who I’m supporting and I’m not against anybody, but I will be voting for Ted Cruz in the upcoming Republican primary," Pence said.
The governor praised Cruz for his opposition to taxation, government spending and the Affordable Care Act. He also praised the senator’s knowledge of the Constitution and his conservative stances on gun rights and abortion.
Pence did conclude that he would support whoever became the GOP nominee, even if that candidate is not Cruz.
The governor declared, “I promise you I’m going to work my heart out for that team and make sure we deliver a great victory.”
Pence’s endorsement is a coup for Cruz, whose campaign considers the May 3 Indiana primary crucial for him to win the nomination in a contested convention scenario.
Trump’s most high-profile endorsement in the state came from former Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight, Indy Star reports.
Trump declared Knight’s support as “the greatest endorsement in the history of Indiana.”
The Indiana primary may test whether a governor or a hometown celebrity endorsement matters more.