On Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that he will vote for Donald Trump in the November election, despite opposing his nomination for months.
In an op-ed piece he submitted to the Janesville Gazette, Ryan said he felt confident Trump “would help us turn the ideas in this agenda into laws to help improve people’s lives.”
“That’s why I’ll be voting for him this fall,” he added.
Earlier this year, after the real estate mogul first clinched the nomination, Ryan said he was “not ready to” endorse Trump. Talking to CNN reporter Jake Tapper, the House Speaker said, “we don’t always nominate a Lincoln and a Reagan every four years, but we hope that our nominee aspires to be Lincoln- and Reagan-esque.”
A series of meetings and phone calls with the Republican presidential candidate, however, appear to have changed Ryan’s mind.
“It’s no secret that he and I have our differences,” he wrote in the Gazette. “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.”
Although unenthusiastic, Ryan’s endorsement signals the final steps to a unity within the Republican party, which had been severely divided over Trump’s nomination since the beginning of his campaign.
Prior to Thursday’s announcement, Ryan had openly clashed with Trump several times. He criticized Trump following the candidate’s bigoted comments about Latinos, women, and disabled people, and openly disagreed with him on key Republican policies.
When Trump announced in December his proposal to ban all Muslims from immigrating to the United States, Ryan condemned the candidate’s comments. “This is not conservatism,” he said in a press meeting. “What was proposed … is not what this party stands for, and more importantly it’s not what this country stands for.”
However, Ryan has also stated multiple times that a union within the Republican Party would be necessary to achieve the goals set in the Republican agenda.
Democrats declared the endorsement as proof all Republican candidates in the House and Senate will follow Trump’s lead.
Meredith Kelly, spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said, “House Republicans will be inseparably tied to their toxic front-runner in November, case closed.”
A spokesman for Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev) said in an email that Republicans are now “the party of Trump … Speaker Ryan’s abject surrender makes it official.”
In his op-ed piece, Ryan seems to agree with these opinions.
“The goal was to focus on issues that unite Republicans. It’s a bold agenda but one that can bring together all wings of the Republican Party as well as appeal to most Americans,” he wrote.
Ryan’s endorsement of Trump was heavily centered around fighting Democratic nominee hopeful Hillary Clinton. He reiterated his belief that a Clinton White House would mean four more years of “liberal cronyism,” as well as “a government more out for itself than the people it serves.”
“Quite simply, she represents all that our agenda aims to fix.”
However, a handful of key Republican figures are still holding out against endorsing Trump. Both former presidents George W. Bush and George H. W. Bush have declined to endorse Trump, as have Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney.
Even Ryan, only a day after his endorsement, has continued to clash with Trump. On Friday, he criticized the Republican candidate’s suggestion that Judge Gonzalo Curiel was unfit to preside over the Trump University lawsuit because of his Mexican heritage.
“Look, the comment about the judge just was out of left field for my mind,” said Ryan on Milwaukee radio show WISN in Wisconsin. “It’s reasoning I don’t relate to, I completely disagree with the thinking behind that.”
The primary elections are still six months away, which is a long time in politics. Given Ryan’s tenuous relationship with Trump, his tepid endorsement may be short-lived.
[Photo By Chip Somodevilla]