WASHINGTON, May 10, 2016 – House Speaker Paul Ryan has given schizophrenic answers concerning his support for Donald Trump. On January 14, 2016, Ryan stated that, “we’re going to support whoever our nominee is, do you know why? Because it’s the Republican primary voter who makes that decision and that’s who we respect.” On April 28, 2016, he said, “Look, my job is to help unify our party. It’s to take all pieces of the conservative movement in the Republican Party and help stitch them together, especially after a primary.”
But last week, Ryan said he is not yet prepared to back Donald Trump as the Republican nominee.
So what has changed since the January and April statements about party unity? Why has speaker Ryan suddenly decided to withhold his support for Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican nominee, the candidate that Republican primary voters have evidently chosen?
Ryan did note, “I never said never. I just said (not) at this point,” Ryan told the Journal Sentinel. “I just want to get to know the guy. We just don’t know each other.”
Does Ryan’s job description include getting to know the candidate who the party voters chose before giving his support? And what of “respecting the voters?” Why does that not seem important now?
Lou Dobbs, of the Fox Business Network, who referred to Ryan as, “Increasingly precious and petulant”, remarked that, “Ryan has ignored his responsibility to remain neutral as Speaker and chairman of the convention, despite calling for unity for months and claiming he would support the party’s nominee.”
Ryan has suggested that Trump unify the Republican party and embrace “conservative principles” to earn his support. Ryan spent months conveying that by serving as the chairman of the Republican National Convention, he was bound by duty to support whoever the party nominated for president. But how does that now translate into “earning” his support? Does he believe that his support is the deciding factor in Trump obtaining the nomination?
Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, has declared Trump as such. Also, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has given his endorsement of Trump while stating that he had “the opportunity and the obligation to unify our party around our goals.”
Ryan has been receiving his share of backlash from his actions and remarks. An angry Sarah Palin, who endorsed Trump in January, feels that Ryan should lose his seat as Speaker. “His political career is over but for a miracle because he has so disrespected the will of the people, and as the leader of the GOP, the convention, certainly he is to remain neutral,” Palin said.
Trump has also lashed out, saying he will not rule out blocking Ryan from serving as the convention’s chairman. He has also stated that he will not change his platform in order to soothe Ryan. Trump said on ABC’s “This Week,” “I’m going to do what I have to do — I have millions of people that voted for me, so I have to stay true to my principles also. And I’m a conservative, but don’t forget, this is called the Republican Party. It’s not called the Conservative Party.”
In his remarks to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Ryan has stated that “He’s the nominee. I’ll do whatever he wants with respect to the convention.” He also said on Monday that if Donald Trump wants him to step down as chairman of the GOP convention, he will respect his wishes.
With the Republican party becoming increasingly fractured, voters are wondering if it can ever coalesce. Ryan is an established politician who views things through the establishment logic, while Trump offers ideas and solutions from a fresh, outsider’s point of view. And people are positively responding.
Whether Ryan gives in and declares his support for Trump remains a guessing game.
The two are scheduled to meet in Washington on Thursday.