Rep. Ryan Zinke's wife, Lola, plays a starring, if silent, role in the congressman's latest campaign ad. The 30-second spot features a close-up of the couple's faces as Ryan pledges to protect his family and all Montanans. Lola looks up at her husband when he says, "and I'll continue to keep you safe," then turns back to the camera just in time for the congressman to ask for the viewer's vote.
Outside the scripted frame of a television ad, Lola has been more vocal during this election cycle—and not just to support her husband. The "San Diego lawyer," as Univision referred to her in August, has been an enthusiastic supporter of Donald J. Trump's candidacy, serving on his Hispanic Advisory Board, talking up the Republican presidential nominee on Twitter and donning Make America Great Again merch.
While Rep. Zinke is the higher profile Trump surrogate (he once fantasized about his name on a Trump ticket), the congressman has acknowledged Lola as the true believer. He described his wife as an "early adopter to Trump ... earlier than me, by far" in an interview with Breitbart, and Trump himself gave her a shoutout during his Billings rally.
"Where the hell is he, my man!" Trump said of Ryan, the Billings Gazette reported. "He's supported me from the very beginning, but it's more his wife, right?"
So after audio emerged Oct. 7 of Trump boasting, in the crudest terms, of sexually assaulting married women, Zinke was probably being honest when he issued a statement saying that "Lola and I have talked about it and we pray he has grown from his mistake." Asked the same day if he was considering withdrawing support for Trump, Zinke told Montana Public Radio: "I think we're taking it in, at the moment."
Lola didn't have long to mull things over. She was a scheduled speaker on a "Women for Trump" bus tour this week through North Carolina that featured the wives of Republican congressmen. Trump seemed to have won her over by Sunday night's debate, during which she tweeted that the candidate was "knocking it out of the park," but by Tuesday morning the Zinke campaign was still mum on Lola's participation. A few hours later, Lola released an op-ed through the campaign that made clear she would be aboard the Trump bus.
"We all know Mr. Trump has said some regrettable things," she wrote. "He's since apologized. I got over it."