Reince Priebus has arguably had one of the more difficult jobs of the 2016 election season, trying to hold the Republican Party together while managing a polarizing candidate who refuses to tone down his blistering rhetoric.
But when the Republican National Committee chairman took the stage Thursday on the final night of the GOP convention in Cleveland, after a raucous week that broadcast divisions within the party for the whole nation to see, he kept his comments on Donald Trump to a minimum.
Instead he did what most Republicans who have had issues with the party’s nominee did: Attack the likely Democratic choice, Hillary Clinton, while calling for a better America.
“The Republican Party will not stop until that becomes a reality,” Priebus said. “That’s why need to stop Hillary Clinton.”
Priebus did give a brief nod to the Republican nominee, urging the convention delegates to vote.
“Hold on, help is coming with Donald Trump and Mike Pence,” Priebus said. “America is ready for a comeback.”
Priebus has the challenging task of rallying a party so divided that a coalition of delegates attempted but failed Monday to force a roll call vote on the rules package for the convention, a move designed to show distaste for both Trump and the party’s rules.
Priebus’ appearance came after Sen. Ted Cruz continued to defy his pledge to support the party’s nominee, with the Texas Republican saying he would not be Trump’s “servile puppy dog” after the real estate mogul and primary rival attacked Cruz’s wife and father while on the campaign trail.
Priebus made no mention of the Cruz-Trump feud.
Establishment Republicans spent much of the year struggling to embrace the party’s presumptive presidential nominee and have been under pressure to endorse him to help unite the divided party.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan on several occasions refused to back and continued to criticize some of Trump’s controversial rhetoric even after he granted him the endorsement.
The Wisconsin Republican often dances around questions of whether Trump would make a good president, instead relying on the notion that anybody is better than presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.