Paul Ryan Folds Like A Cheap Suit, Endorses Donald Trump
After initially expressing doubts about his candidacy, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has lined up behind Donald Trump.
After a month or so of dancing around the issue, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has endorsed Donald Trump’s Presidential bid, a move that is likely to lead to others in Congress falling in line as well:
Speaker Paul D. Ryan endorsed Donald J. Trump for president on Thursday, finally giving his backing after weeks of reluctance about supporting the man who ran against the party’s establishment, of which Mr. Ryan is the titular leader.
In a column posted on GazetteXtra.com, Mr. Ryan made clear he believed that Mr. Trump was the best candidate to help establish the agenda that he himself wants to get through Congress. A spokesman for Mr. Ryan, Brendan Buck, wrote on Twitter that the column constitutes an endorsement.
The two have spoken numerous times, Mr. Ryan wrote in the column. They also met in a widely publicized sit-down in Washington a few weeks ago.
“Through these conversations, I feel confident he would help us turn the ideas in this agenda into laws to help improve people’s lives,” he wrote. “That’s why I’ll be voting for him this fall.”
“It’s no secret that he and I have our differences.,” he continued. “I won’t pretend otherwise. And when I feel the need to, I’ll continue to speak my mind. But the reality is, on the issues that make up our agenda, we have more common ground than disagreement.”
Word of the endorsement came just as Mr. Trump’s likely rival in November, Hillary Clinton, was delivering a blistering attack on his foreign policy positions, warning against giving the country’s nuclear codes to the Manhattan businessman.
Mr. Ryan’s words of support for Mr. Trump, however lukewarm, will be welcomed by the Trump campaign. Mr. Trump’s advisers are trying to pry open doors that have been closed against him over his caustic rhetoric, including with donors who like Mr. Ryan.
Mr. Ryan had at times criticized Mr. Trump during the nominating contest, calling him out for divisive language. Like much of the party’s establishment, Mr. Ryan was said to be surprised when Mr. Trump became the presumptive nominee on May 3, hours after winning the Indiana primary and forcing Senator Ted Cruz of Texas from the race.
Ryan’s endorsement was posted as an Op-Ed in one of the local newspapers in Ryan’s Congressional District.
Initially, of course, Ryan was less than enthusiastic about the prospect of Donald Trump as his party’s nominee. Early in May, in the wake of Trump’s victory in the Indiana Primary which led to both Ted Cruz and John Kasich dropping out of the race as it became apparent that Trump securing the delegate majority he needs to win the nomination on the first ballot in Cleveland in July, Ryan said that he was not prepared to get behind Trump’s campaign, and in the past Ryan has been critical of Trump on such issues as his advocacy of a ban on all immigration to the United States by Muslims. Instead of endorsing him immediately, Ryan set about meeting with Trump and his representatives on several occasions, and said that he would need to get some reassurances from Trump regarding both the agenda Trump would pursue as President and Trump’s own support for the domestic policy agenda that Ryan would like to see Congress pursue should a Republican win the Presidency. Ryan became the subject of criticism for this position, most notably from Trump supporters like Sarah Palin and others who vowed to support the campaign of the relatively unknown conservative activist who is challenging him in what is seen as a largely quixotic primary challenge.
While it’s unlikely that the threat of a primary challenge really concerned Ryan all that much, the fact that he has come around and endorsed Trump is not all that surprising. For one thing, as Speaker of the House Ryan will be charged with presiding over the convention in Cleveland in July and it would have been awkward to say the least for him to stay in that position when he hasn’t endorsed the party nominee. Additionally, the longer Ryan held out the more speculation grew that he was involved in some way in the efforts to get an independent candidate into the race for the principle purpose of ensuring that Trump wouldn’t win the election, or that he was in some way seeking to engineer some last minute scheme that would have made Ryan himself the Republican nominee. At the same time, though, I tend to agree with Allahpundit that Ryan’s decision to wait a month to endorse Trump doesn’t really make sense:
What was the point of all this? Why didn’t he go the McConnell route and back Trump early, without fanfare, as a matter of partisan course? His op-ed isn’t an effusive endorsement — it amounts to Ryan saying that Trump, unlike Hillary, at least might sign some Republican bills — but because of Ryan’s initial resistance there’s a sense that Trump has passed some meaningful ideological litmus test now, which, I would think, is pretty much the opposite of what a dogmatic conservatarian like Ryan would want people to believe. How’d Trump pass that test? What has he said over the past month that’s meaningfully different from what he said over the first 10 months of the campaign that gave Ryan qualms about his nomination? The whole point of Ryan holding out, I thought, was to create some political daylight between House incumbents and Trump in case Trump faltered in the polls or went full loose cannon. He hasn’t faltered — on the contrary — but we’re still five months out from the election. He might falter eventually — yet here’s Ryan bear-hugging him in early June. How does the House inch away from Trump now if things go sideways later? All things considered, Ryan lost respect today from people who respected him for initially refusing to back Trump and gained little from people who didn’t. What on earth was his strategy with all of this nonsense?
The answer, I think, is that there was no strategy. Most likely, Ryan’s reluctance to get behind Trump even after it was apparent that he was going to be the nominee was based upon Ryan’s recognition of the dangers that Trump poses to the future of the Republican Party and to Republican control of the House and the Senate in the short term. At the same time, as a member of the leadership he was likely under pressure to fall in line for the sake of party unity headed into the convention and the General Election. In retrospect, it would have looked better had Ryan given Trump the kind of low-key ‘endorsement’ that Mitch McConnell did, which basically just amounted to a recognition of the fact that the voters had spoken and that Trump would be the nominee. Instead, by withholding his endorsement Trump made it seem as though he had serious issues with Trump that would need to be resolved before he could fall in line with everyone else. Now, despite the fact that very little has changed in the campaign except for the fact that we are learning more about the fraud that was ‘Trump University’ while Trump himself has taken to attacking the integrity of a Federal District Court Judge, Ryan has made it seem as though Trump has passed some test even though it’s clear that Ryan gained nothing over the past month.