Ryan Keeps His Balance on Trump in Convention Speech

Speaker spends more time bashing Clinton, promoting his House agenda

UNITED STATES - JULY 19: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) flashes a W sign at the Wisconsin delegation at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio on Monday, July 19, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Tuesday praised Cleveland, law enforcement, himself and GOP presidential nominee Donald J. Trump, in that order.  

Speaking during prime time on the second night of the Republican National Convention, the Wisconsin Republican only mentioned Trump’s name twice, both times mentioning him and his running mate Mike Pence as a pair. After all, it’s clear that Ryan likes his “buddy” Pence better than “not my kind of conservative” Trump.   

Instead of talking up the nominee, Ryan spent the majority of his 13-minute speech talking about how a Hillary Clinton presidency would be a continuation of what he considers President Obama’s failed liberal progressive agenda and about the House Republicans’ “A Better Way” agenda the speaker has been promoting all year.  

The speech was just another example of Ryan’s Trump tightrope walk  -- a delicate balancing act of being a GOP leader supportive of his party’s chosen nominee and an establishment guy who thinks Trump often strays too far from what Republican principles and ideas.  

Ryan’s compliments of Trump were in line with the themes of his speech. The first was an acknowledgement that he believes Trump will be the next president, because like he’s said a thousand times, the country is faced with a binary choice between Trump and Clinton.  

“The next time that there’s a State of the Union address, I don’t know where Joe Biden or Barack Obama are going to be. But you’ll find me right there on the rostrum with Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump,” Ryan said.   

Yes, he mentioned Pence first when referencing an event where Trump as the hypothetical president in this scenario is supposed to be the one in the spotlight.  

The second time Ryan referenced Trump was after he talked up the “A Better Way” agenda and the ideas it offers on poverty, taxes, health care, national security, regulations and constitutional powers.  

“Only with Donald Trump and Mike Pence do we have a chance at a better way,” Ryan said.  

This compliment is not a new one from Ryan. When he endorsed Trump, part of his stated reason was that he believes the Republican nominee would support House Republicans’ policy ideas and sign into law the legislative overhauls they were proposing.  

But that’s where Ryan’s praise for Trump ends.

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