GOP's Toxic Relationship With Trump

by Cheyna Roth

On Monday, POLITICO reported that House Speaker Paul Ryan will speak at the Republican National Convention next week, but from the known details, the speech seems less about the party's candidate and more about the need to unite. POLITICO reported that Ryan will give a 10-minute, personally written, speech that focuses on the GOP agenda, Republican ideas, the need for party unity. But despite of calling November a "critical election," Ryan did not emphasize (or even appear to mention) the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. Instead, Ryan focused on the party saying in an interview with POLITICO, "I want to talk about our ideas, our solutions and how our party should unite ... around our common principles and how we apply those principles to problems."

Like a giant elephant in the room (yes, pun intended), it's easy to see the non-focus on Trump as a sign of the unspoken but obvious schisms within the Republican party. Ryan himself has had problems with the explosive nominee, from making the jaw-dropping announcement he was not ready to endorse Trump after he became the presumptive nominee (Ryan, of course, eventually did) to calling Trump's remarks about Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is overseeing the Trump university case, "the textbook definition of a racist comment." Ryan isn't the only one failing to get the warm fuzzies about Trump. An ever growing list of Republicans are not attending the convention with excuses ranging from preferring to watch from the convention from the comfort of home to a desiring to watch dumpster fires instead of Trump.

With the current state of the Republican party, it's little surprise that in the months since the divisive candidate's announcement as presumptive nominee, Ryan has tirelessly waved the banner of unity. Although Trump has claimed in the past that he doesn't need party unity to win, that really isn't the case. While Trump may have gotten through the primaries on the votes of those who love his "anti-political correctness" image, the general is a different animal. As a Bloomberg report noted, the primary electorate makes up only about 20 percent of the general electorate, so even if Trump keeps the base he created, he still needs a lot more support to win. And while there has been some indication of Trump moving toward falling in line with the party, his Twitter account keeps showing the old Trump.

Ryan's comments about his RNC speech made it clear that he wants party unity above all else, even if that means continuing the toxic relationship the Republican party has with Trump. But in spite of all of Ryan's efforts, Republican leaders and political alumni, including heavy hitters like Mitt Romney and former presidential father and son George H.W. and George W. Bush, are either coming out against Trump or refusing to say anything about him. Ryan may be calling for party unity, but the odds that his 10-minute speech will sell establishment GOP — and the nation — on Republican togetherness are low.