On Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan finally made the endorsement everyone’s been waiting for. In an op-ed published in his hometown newspaper, Ryan said that while he still had areas of disagreement with Republican nominee Donald Trump, he believed Trump would be better for the country than Hillary Clinton.
After offering a preview of a Republican House agenda for the next four years, Ryan said, “It’s short of all that’s required to save the country, but 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.”
Ryan said the choice was then simple: which of the two likely presidential candidates would sign that agenda into law?
“One person who we know won’t support it is Hillary Clinton,” he wrote. “A Clinton White House would mean four more years of liberal cronyism and a government more out for itself than the people it serves. Quite simply, she represents all that our agenda aims to fix.”
Ryan said that he had come to believe, through private talks with Trump, that the billionaire would support his agenda.
“I feel confident he would help us turn the ideas in this agenda into laws to help improve people’s lives,” Ryan wrote. “That’s why I’ll be voting for him this fall.”
The hesitation is still palpable, of course, and Ryan doesn’t really hide the fact that he would rather the Republican nominee be almost anyone else. But that’s fine. It would be unseemly and even a little pathetic if Ryan suddenly pretended as though he had loved Trump from the beginning. And it can’t be ignored that Ryan has his own political future to worry about. He doesn’t want to identify too strongly with the Trump movement, just in case all of this comes crashing down in November. Call that cowardice if you like, but it is what it is.
Really, though, we should appreciate how unlikely all of this seemed even a few short months ago. With still a month left before the Republican National Convention, Trump has done the improbable: He’s united the GOP leadership around him. No, not everyone. No, not unconditionally. But he’s done it. And that’s a lot more than his critics thought possible.