On Tuesday night, Donald Trump took the unusual step of delivering a victory speech – he won 7 of the 11 Super Tuesday contests – before opening the floor to questions. A reporter asked about criticism he’d received from Republican leaders in Congress, including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). The GOP frontrunner’s responded as only he would.
Donald Trump on Tuesday vowed to work with Congress if he is elected president – or else. […]“Look, I don’t want to waste a lot of time,” Trump said. “I’m going to get along great with Congress, OK? Paul Ryan, I don’t know him well, but I’m sure I’m going to get along great with him, and if I don’t? He’s gonna have to pay a big price, OK?”
Let that sink in for a minute. The frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, on Super Tuesday, apparently threatened the Republican Speaker of the House – on national television.
This morning, Ryan told reporters he saw the comments, adding, “I just laughed out loud. Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction around here these days.”
I think it’s safe to say the political world is most definitely swimming in uncharted waters.
But note what happened the day before Trump’s shot across the Speaker’s bow. Politico reported:
Donald Trump’s campaign reached out Monday to Speaker Paul Ryan’s operation to chat. […]“We have heard from the [Trump campaign], but the two have not yet spoken,” said Brendan Buck, Ryan’s spokesman. “We expect the speaker to be in touch with all the remaining candidates soon to discuss our efforts to build a bold conservative policy agenda for 2017.”
This touches on something we discussed the other day: when push comes to shove, for many on Capitol Hill, party affiliation will rule the day. If Trump is the nominee, Paul Ryan has vowed to support him, threats or no threats. If Trump somehow ends up in the Oval Office, the House Speaker will partner with him to advance the Republican platform.
Ryan said on Tuesday morning, in a not-so-subtle rebuke to Trump, “We believe all people are created equal in the eyes of God and our government. This is fundamental, and if someone wants to be our nominee, they have to understand this.”
And if they don’t understand this, well, Ryan doesn’t really intend to do anything about it.