Facing urgent calls to stabilize his candidacy and declining poll numbers, Donald J. Trump struggled on Thursday to refocus his message after threatening to withhold his endorsement from top Republican officeholders, including Paul D. Ryan, the speaker of the House.
Snarling Mr. Trump’s efforts to move past the controversy, he and his running mate,Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, broke ranks for the second time in two days on questions of party unity. Having already split with Mr. Trump over his refusal to endorse Mr. Ryan, Mr. Pence went his own way again on Thursday, telling WTKR, a television news station in Norfolk, Va., that he supported senators running for re-election whom Mr. Trump had snubbed, John McCain of Arizonaand Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire.
Mr. Pence at first gave an equivocal answer regarding the senators on Thursday. But when asked by the television station to clarify whether he supported them, he said, “Well of course I support John McCain and Kelly Ayotte.”
There is mounting pressure on Mr. Trump to regain his footing in the race and repair some of the damage he has sustained in swing states. Trailing Hillary Clinton in national polls, Mr. Trump has also fallen badly behind in a battery of state-level surveys released over the course of the week.
He trailed Mrs. Clinton by six percentage points in Florida, according to a Suffolk University poll, and by 11 points in Pennsylvania in a poll by Franklin & Marshall College. This dire polling may further undermine Mr. Trump’s deteriorating relationship with Republicans in Washington.
Mr. Trump played down the friction between him and Mr. Ryan at a campaign stop in Maine on Thursday, calling the speaker a “good guy” and discouraging a supportive crowd from booing Mr. Ryan’s name. In turn, Mr. Ryan said he continued to support Mr. Trump, calling it a matter of respect for the will of the voters.
Mr. Trump told supporters that Mr. Pence had come to seek his permission before endorsing Mr. Ryan. “He said, ‘I like him, he’s a friend of mine, would you mind if I endorsed him, and I will not do it if you say no,’ ” Mr. Trump said. “I say, ‘Mike, you like him? Yes. Go ahead and do it.’ ”
On the Trail
Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence reunite on the campaign trail for two events in Iowa and Wisconsin after a week of differing opinions of Mr. Ryan. Mr. Pence has also had to issue tempered statements after controversial remarks by his running mate about Russian cyberespionage and a Gold Star military family. The joint appearance will be their first since going separate ways (as is frequent for a presidential ticket) after the Republican National Convention. NICK CORASANITI
Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia will be in Grand Rapids, Mich., where he will help open a campaign office.
By ALEXANDER BURNS, NOAH REMNICK AND NICK CORASANITI
Interviews with voters showed that many were steadfast in their support of Mr. Trump, but his crude remarks about the armed services clearly present an obstacle.
Clockwise from top left: Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis, via Getty Images, Stephen Crowley/The New York Times, Diana Walker/Time & Life Pictures, via Getty Images, Bettmann Archive/Getty Images, Diana Walker/Time & Life Pictures, via Getty Images, J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press, Ron Edmonds/Associated Press