The Republican Endorsements That Could Make or Break Trump

How the rocky relationships the GOP presidential candidate has with party leaders could affect his time in office should he be elected.

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Republican candidate Donald Trump pauses during a town hall with his running mate Gov. Mike Pence in Roanoke, Va. on July 25, 2016.
Republican candidate Donald Trump pauses during a town hall with his running mate Gov. Mike Pence in Roanoke, Va. on July 25, 2016. Credit: Evan Vucci, AP
Steve Peoples

AP – To endorse or not to endorse? The question is, does it matter?

For a potential president Donald Trump, the rocky relationship he has with some Republican leaders – the ones he once refused to endorse, and those who have held back their kind words – could spill over into his first term at the White House.

Here's a look at some of the key Washington players who haven't offered a ringing endorsement of the GOP nominee – and how their lack of support could affect the celebrity businessman's time in office.

Paul Ryan

No legislation will make it to a vote in the House without Speaker Paul Ryan's approval, assuming Republicans maintain the House majority, as is widely expected. That gives the Wisconsin Republican tremendous power to shape Trump's agenda, including the billionaire's policy prescriptions for the economy, immigration, national security and even trade.

Ryan and Trump have had a strained relationship for months, with Ryan initially refusing to endorse Trump this spring and Trump shocking the political world last week by saying he wasn't ready to endorse the Republican speaker. Trump endorsed Ryan days later.

Ted Cruz

The Texas senator, known to Trump's supporters as "Lyin' Ted," is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will review the next president's Supreme Court nominees. Cruz has also demonstrated a mastery of parliamentary obstruction techniques.

And there's no sitting member of Congress with a worse relationship with Trump than Cruz, who refused to endorse Trump at the GOP convention after the presidential nominee insulted his wife's appearance and suggested his father was linked to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Marco Rubio

Should he win re-election to the Senate in November, Rubio is likely to play an outsized role in any plans to reshape the nation's immigration system, which has long been a priority for the Florida senator and had been a major issue in Trump's campaign.

Things got nasty between Rubio and Trump in the final days of their primary fight, with Trump raining insults on "Little Marco," who responded by questioning the size of Trump's hands. Rubio has endorsed Trump, but is refusing to campaign on his behalf.

John McCain

The Arizona senator, who also faces a re-election test in November, will play an influential role in Trump's plans for the military given McCain's role as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. McCain endorsed Trump back in May, but Trump has been an aggressive McCain critic for more than a year.

The New York billionaire last summer said McCain was only a war hero because he had been captured. Last week, Trump charged that McCain hadn't done enough for veterans and initially refused to endorse him, before changing his mind Friday.

Charles and David Koch

The billionaire Koch brothers will continue to lead the conservative movement's most powerful independent policy and political network – whether Trump wins or not. The Kochs have turned their backs on Trump, citing concerns about his policies and personality.

The well-funded Koch network will oppose Trump prescriptions that don't line up with their own and could challenge Trump's allies in Congress as well.

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