Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin has promised to vote for his party's presumptive nominee in November, offering an uncertain endorsement he has resisted for months.
The statement lacked the theatrical appeal that generally characterizes Donald Trump's campaign, and not only because Mr. Ryan delivered the missive via an op-ed in his Wisconsin hometown while Congress was out for Memorial Day. The statement admits that despite Ryan's feelings about Mr. Trump's ideas and tone, the show must go on, and the speaker of the House is with the program.
"It's not just a choice of two people, but of two visions for America. And House Republicans are helping shape that Republican vision by offering a bold policy agenda, by offering a better way ahead," Ryan wrote in the Walworth County Gazette Xtra. "Donald Trump can help us make it a reality."
Ryan has reportedly grown weary of questions about the Republican presumptive nominee from journalists and has repeatedly tried to change tack amid campaign questions and discuss, say, the opioid crisis instead. He told the Associated Press he hopes constant clarification is over.
"There are times where I've felt very motivated to speak out about some of the things he had said, like the Muslim ban," he told the AP, referring to Trump's intention of barring Muslims entry to the United States. "And I spoke to him about those things. Criticizing other Republicans, I’ve spoken to him about that as well.... My hope is that I won't have to speak out in the future on a case-by-case basis."
Trump told The New York Times he was "pleased" with the endorsement by the Speaker of the House.
"I have a good relationship with him, actually," he told The New York Times. "He was taken a little bit by storm because my situation was supposed to go to the convention."
Ryan admits his concerns and his need to take his time – he never used the word "endorse," and an aide had to clarify it via Twitter afterward that Ryan's move should be seen as an endorsement, Reuters reported – but he spends the first half of the opinion piece answering a question that had nothing to do with Trump, a question he describes as, "If we had a Republican president ready to sign bills into law, what would we do?"
His answer suggested that Trump might not entirely fit the description, and Ryan used it to discuss tax code, executive overreach, party unity, and finally, the reluctant assertion that he would vote for Trump in the November election. Ryan's criticisms of Trump's policy ideas and tone have been well-documented, but his nod to the Trump campaign represents a declaration that the Republican Party will go on, and the speaker of the House would like to move on as well, as he told the AP:
We obviously have a different kind of style and tone. That's very clear. Anyone who knows anything about us knows that. But what really, ultimately matters is how best can we make sure these principles and policies get enacted in 2017. And it is clear that is far more likely to happen under a Trump presidency than a Clinton presidency."