Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has never had the closest relationship with the leaders of the GOP, and in recent weeks, he has several times suggested that he doesn’t actually need the party’s institutional support to win the White House. At one point, he suggested that party leaders just “be quiet” and get out of his way. It’s beginning to look as though they may just oblige him.
In a pre-taped interview with Meet the Press host Chuck Todd that aired Sunday, House Speaker Paul Ryan said that he would not pressure House Republicans to publicly support Trump if doing so would violate their consciences. He made no effort to undermine plans being hatched among a small number of delegates to the Republican nominating convention next month to rewrite the rules in order to
Ryan’s interview aired a day after Trump reiterated his claim that he could beat the Democratic nominee on his own if he had to.
“Look, we’re going to raise a lot of money,” he told a reporter from NBC. “I’ve raised a lot of money this weekend. I’m raising it for the Republican Party. I’m doing a good job. If you look at [Republican National Committee chair] Reince [Priebus] he’ll say we have done an amazing job in a very short period of time. I think we’re going to have a great convention and I think we’re going to go on to a great victory. It would be nice if the Republicans stuck together.”
However, he said, “I think because I’m a different kind of a candidate -- Paul Ryan said that, I’m a different kind of candidate -- I think that I win either way. I can win one way or the other.”
“With or without the Party’s support?” the reporter asked.
“I do believe that,” Trump said. “I obviously won the primaries without them. I’m an outsider and I won the primaries. I do believe that we can win either way, but it would be nice if we stuck together.”
Ryan said Sunday that he is not considering a withdrawal of his endorsement, even after he has clashed with Trump over his attacks on a federal judge for his Mexican heritage, and has renewed a call for a blanket ban on Muslim immigrants. However, he said he wouldn’t be pressuring his colleagues in the House to climb aboard the Trump Train.
“The last thing I would do is tell anybody to do something that's contrary to their conscience,” he said. “Of course I wouldn't do that. Look, believe me, Chuck, I get that this a very strange situation. This is a very unique nominee. But I feel as a responsibility institutionally, as the Speaker of the House, that I should not be leading some chasm in the middle of our party. Because you know what I know that'll do? That'll definitely knock us out of the White House.”
When Todd asked him if he was putting party before the good of the country, Ryan demurred, saying that he believes Trump would allow him and his fellow Republicans in Congress to pass their agenda, and pointing out that Clinton would not.
Notably, though, Ryan did not engage on the question of whether or not it was wise for delegates to consider changing the rules in order to stymie Trump at the convention, over which Ryan himself will preside.
“It's not my job to tell delegates what to do...They write the rules. They make their decisions,” he said.