The Speaker of the House and the Chairman of the Republican National Convention had a CNN town hall event Tuesday night, where he cast his lot with Donald Trump. He sort of had to come out with this, because the GOP powers that be want to avoid any unpleasantness in Cleveland. To say that it didn’t go so well is an exercise in understatement.
Here’s a sampling of the back-and-forth that plagued Ryan.
How can Ryan morally justify his support for Trump, “somebody who is openly racist?” asked Zachary Marcone.
Not supporting Trump “basically means you’re going to help elect Hillary Clinton,” Ryan said, pointing out that he’s spoken out when Trump has said things that he felt crossed a line.
Peggy Padavano, a Trump supporter, then told Ryan she’s “disheartened” with him and Republican leaders for not fully getting behind the New York mogul, and asked when he was going to start advocating for the GOP nominee.
“10 seconds ago,” Ryan joked.
Will Ryan shut down floor debate of an ever-more-likely minority report by the rules committee to allow delegates to vote their conscience (the #FreeTheDelegates movement)?
“It is not my job as chair of the convention to tell the delegates how to run their convention,” Ryan said. “I won’t put my thumb on the scale as to what these delegates do.”
Oh, but Ryan has already determined that Trump will be the nominee. “We have a binary choice,” he said, referring to the choice between Hillary Clinton and Trump. If the choice is binary, then Ryan’s lot is cast to Trump.
“If I had not done that I believe I would have contributed to basically cutting our party in half and thereby by default, granting the presidency … to Hillary Clinton. And I couldn’t do that,” Ryan said when asked if he would’ve decided differently on endorsing Trump if he wasn’t speaker. “If I was Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, I would’ve had less of an impact but probably the same effect.”
From the tenor of the town hall, it would seem that the cutting in half has already been done. Delegates are not vote-bots; they are people. And the convention in Cleveland is going to be one very rough ride for the party, for Ryan, and for the orange-hued clown who wishes to be crowned (only to lose in a landslide in November).