Paul Ryan, the current Speaker of the House, has become Donald Trump’s latest political enemy after Ryan did not endorse Trump in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Thursday, May 5. Ryan was “just not ready to do that at this point. [He’s] not there right now.” While the Speaker has alienated some conservatives in the past on his policies regarding entitlement reform and immigration reform, this interview brought him back into conservatives’ good graces.
Trump shot back a number of hits against the Speaker, saying that he was “blindsided a little bit, because he spoke to me three weeks ago [after Trump won the New York primary], and it was a very nice call.” A Ryan spokesman later commented that the Speaker had never made such a call; rather, Trump was referring to a call that took place in March that had nothing to do with Trump’s place as the front-runner.
The Trump campaign’s spokeswoman, Katrina Peirson, went on to suggest that Ryan was “unfit to be Speaker” because, as party leader, he was unwilling to unite the GOP behind Trump, implying that Ryan was refusing to put the country first. Fox News pundit, Sean Hannity echoed this as well, asking “I’m thinking maybe we need a new speaker…Thoughts?”
In case the Trump campaign hadn’t done enough to cover their candidate, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin committed to campaigning against Paul Ryan in his own race to maintain his congressional seat for the state of Wisconsin. She remarked that “Paul Ryan is soon to be ‘Cantored,'” referring the former Republican House Majority Leader from Virginia who was ousted in a major 2014 upset. (Given how her last trip to Wisconsin went, Speaker Ryan shouldn’t worry too much.)
This week, the two were more conciliatory toward one another, even promising to meet. Trump disavowed Palin’s comments. Ryan told a Wisconsinite journalist that he would “do whatever [Trump] asks me to do, ” including stepping down voluntarily from his position as chairman of the Republican National Convention in July.
As with many of Trump’s encounters with his detractors, this seemingly short-lived spat with Paul Ryan exposed deep rifts within the GOP. Some conservatives who are ready bring Trump to power, others will vote for him but won’t like it, and still others belong to the notorious #NeverTrump faction.
I think we can firmly say that some consolidation behind Trump will occur, but it won’t look like anything the GOP has seen before.