Paul Ryan is a very savvy politician. Long considered a policy wonk and not somebody that could traverse the dangerous waters of both intra-party politics and partisan politics, Ryan has shown he has the ability to do the policy and the politics.
A reluctant candidate for House Speaker, he took over the position and of course, was immediately assailed for finishing up a process started by his predecessor, John Boehner. Sure enough, before Ryan had even used the gavel for the first time, people were calling for his head and tweeting out #DumpRyan hashtags. Ryan, to his credit, pretty much kept his thoughts to himself, choosing not to engage the cranks who likely would not be satisfied even if Barack Obama himself put a signature on the repeal of Obamacare.
He was thrust into firestorm and has thus far handled the role with a deftness and skill not many people thought he had in him. So it comes as no surprise at the time he begins to butt heads with Donald Trump that he continues to show how he knows how to play this game very well.
Trump enjoys pissing matches and so when Paul Ryan said at this point he was not ready to endorse Donald Trump for President, Trump does what he does best: he lashes out. He first lied, claiming Ryan called him after his win in the NY primary. Ryan’s office denied any call took place. Trump then made a threat he is famous for doing, saying he’d look to have Ryan replaced as the RNC convention chairman.
Trump is essentially looking for a fight. Ryan, rather than taking the bait, decided to play it smart. He said to Trump, “Hey, if you want me to step down, fine.”
Some people said Ryan should have pushed back against Trump but to what end? Paul Ryan’s main goal is to keep control of the House of the Representatives with Republicans. Trump, according to the Cook Report’s latest analysis, as the presumptive GOP nominee, has put that GOP majority in the House at risk.
So why would Ryan want to bother dealing with a Trump hissy fit? He wants to focus on keeping his majority. Trump, as much as people say, “He fights!” likes to play the victim. If Ryan had pushed back, Trump would have run to the press whining “the establishment” has been “very unfair” to him in this process.
Ryan, with one statement, took that card right out of Trump’s hand.
Trump and Ryan are going to be meeting soon and this entire conversation could change in the course of a few hours. Ryan could emerge from the meeting saying he’s ready to support Trump as the GOP nominee. That said, going into this meeting, it is Ryan, not Trump that is in control.
Trump may have been able to bellow and shout his way through the primaries but when it comes to politicking inside the party, he has work to do.