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Cleveland — Gov. Rick Snyder praised Republican vice presidential nomineee and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Thursday, but later declined to explicitly endorse presidential nominee Donald Trump and Pence’s White House campaign.

Snyder lauded the personal qualities of Pence at a mid-day event he hosted for Michigan GOP delegation at the Cleveland Public Library. Pence accepted the vice presidential nomination in a Wednesday prime-time address.

“It was great to see Mike Pence become the nominee for vice president,” Snyder told Michigan Republican delegates attending the GOP national convention. “Mike and I are actually good friends. I appreicate his interest in serving. It shows what we can do.”

But Snyder later declined to offer a public endorsement of the Trump-Pence ticket.

“I’m just staying out of the presidential race, just like I have in the past, because I’m focusing on the state House and the Supreme Court of Michigan races,” Snyder told reporters. “As the governor of Michigan, I view that as my priority.”

“I was happy to say positive things about Gov. Pence. He’s a colleague and friend. ... I was happy to reinforce that he’s a very hard-working, sincere person.”

When asked whether his remarks should be interpreted as an endorsement, Snyder replied: “I do not use the word endorsement. What I’d say is I view him as a personal friend and good colleague as a governor of a neighoring state. We try to do good things in the Midwest together.”

On Wednesday, Snyder endorsed the re-election of 15 incumbent state House Republicans and U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, and announced each will get campaign donations from his new Relentless Positive Action super political action committee.

“I view my priority is not participating in the (presidential) race and working on races back in Michigan,” Snyder said. “I’m busy with many issues in Michigan, as you know, and that has been my primary focus as governor.”

With his administration engulfed in the Flint water crisis, Snyder has shied away all year from weighing in on the Republican presidential primaries and has continued to remain neutral since Trump won the nomination.

Snyder did not specifically mention Flint in his remarks to Michigan delegates, Republican activists and business people attending his brunch.

But with about two-and-a-half years left in office, the governor wanted fellow Republicans to know he’s not a lame duck.

“There’s a lot more dog years left in this dog,” said Snyder, invoking one of his favorite sayings that he works to accomplish goals in dog years. “So there’s a couple of years plus. I’m staying on the gas, and you aren’t going to see any foot off the floor.”

clivengood@detroitnews.com

(517) 371-3661

Twitter: @ChadLivengood

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