Donald Trump endorses Paul Ryan, John McCain.

Trump Strikes Conciliatory Tone With GOP Leadership as He Endorses Ryan, McCain

Trump Strikes Conciliatory Tone With GOP Leadership as He Endorses Ryan, McCain

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Aug. 6 2016 10:08 AM

Trump Strikes Conciliatory Tone With GOP Leadership as He Endorses Ryan, McCain

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally on Aug. 5, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Darren Hauck/Getty Images

Donald Trump doesn’t like to admit he’s wrong. As he has explained in the past, admitting mistakes leaves you vulnerable to attacks. Yet on Friday night he tried to walk back earlier comments to try to ingratiate himself to the Republican Party establishment by endorsing House Speaker Paul Ryan and Sens. John McCain and Kelly Ayotte. The endorsement came only a few days after he refused to back their candidacies, exposing just how deep the divisions run in the GOP leadership.

“We will have disagreements, but we will disagree as friends and never stop working together toward victory. And very importantly, toward real change,” Trump said at a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin. “So in our shared mission, to make America great again, I support and endorse our speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.” He then flashed two thumbs up as he endorsed McCain, praising him for his service to the country, and Ayotte.

Leaving no doubt about what the strategy was behind this marked change in tone, Trump’s campaign quickly sent an email to supporters: “It’s time to unite our Party and deny a third term of Obama.”

Whether Ryan even wanted Trump’s endorsement is far from clear. The House speaker, who is expected to win a primary challenge next week, has repeatedly said he only cares about the endorsement of voters in his district. And it hardly seems like the GOP establishment is ready to welcome Trump with open arms; his Wisconsin event was markedly short on high profile Republicans.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.