WASHINGTON, April 12, 2016 – Despite a rocky relationship over the past several months, House Speaker Paul Ryan has met with the GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump.
This is the first formal meeting between the two rivals since Ryan announced his refusal to back the billionaire for president. The meeting is expected to reach agreements on how to handle issues such as free trade, immigration, taxes and entitlement reform.
The notes from the meeting, at this writing, are that the meeting was a first, but productive. Meaning the deal is not done, yet.
Both Ryan and Trump, say they are seeking party unity before an election battle against expected Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Trump and Ryan also met privately with RNC Chairman Reince Priebus before meeting with a larger group of House Republicans as well as Senate Republicans, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has said he will support the GOP nominee.
Trump and Ryan have clashed throughout the 2016 campaign. Ryan slammed Trump over his proposal to impose a temporary ban on Muslim entry in the United States. Trump has criticized Ryan’s proposed budget cuts and his performance as Mitt Romney’s running mate during the 2012 presidential election.
Trump’s clinching of the nomination is increasing his popularity among GOP voters, some national polls suggest, raising the potential political cost of opposing him. Some GOP colleagues have voiced impatience that Ryan hasn’t endorsed the presumptive nominee yet.<
During a CNN interview last Thursday, Ryan said he was not ready to endorse Trump raising questions about whether the GOP will unify around its presumptive nominee or continue to divide the party. “I didn’t really appreciate his comments, ” Sen. James Inhofe(R-Okla.) told reporters. “They have to establish a workable relationship, and I think they will, but that’s not a good way to start.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) called Ryan’s comments a “mistake.”
“We’ve all made some mistakes in the past,” he added. “It’s not going to alter Trump.”
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) told reporters Monday that GOP leaders needs to “unify as a team going into the fall.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said last week that he would support Trump if he becomes the nominee and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), asked if GOP lawmakers should endorse Trump, pointed to his previous statements that he would support the nominee.
Meanwhile, Sen.Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) expressed optimism that the Trump-Ryan split would get resolved and downplayed speculation that the divide would negatively impact the party.
“I don’t think we have to be on the same page [but] sooner or later we have to try to work together,” he added.
If Trump and Ryan can come out of these meetings on a happy note, Ryan may help Trump win House Republicans support and help unite the party. Conversely, Ryan’s current refusal to back the presumptive nominee may cost him during his primary race to hang onto his seat and House Speaker role.
Trump allies, including 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, have threatened to support Ryan’s primary opponent if Ryan does not come around. The reluctant speaker does not seem to be worried.
The results of this meetings will not be immediate, but will eventually show whether it’s possible to repair the damage between the two GOP leaders.
Paul Ryan needs to eventually support Trump and convince Cruz supporters not to vote third-party, a sure path to a Clinton and Democrat victory.