Speaker Ryan Presents Conservative Agenda to Trump, Cruz

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When House Speaker Paul Ryan denounced Donald Trump in an oblique way last week, some thought they could put him firmly in the #NeverTrump movement. But even though Ryan was clearly upset about Trump’s odd interview on CNN where he wavered on the question of white supremacy, the newly-elected speaker included the frontrunner in a series of calls about the future of the Republican agenda.

“Speaker Ryan has now had phone calls with Donald Trump and Senator Cruz to explain House Republicans’ plan to present a bold conservative policy agenda this year,” said Ryan’s press secretary AshLee Strong. “He will have similar calls with Senator Rubio and Governor Kasich soon.”

Ryan said last week that he was intent on bringing the would-be Republican president – whomever it might be – on board with a Reagan-esque strategy. “The goal here is to have an election like we had in 1980, where we unite around bold ideas and we earn a mandate from the country so that we can get the country back on track,” he said.

Meanwhile, there is at least one super PAC that is spending money in an attempt to make Ryan himself the nominee. “The Committee to Draft Speaker Ryan” was created by former ambassador Earle Mack, who told the New York Times that he was planning to spend up to a million dollars to pull the young congressman into the race.

“It all comes down to winning the election, not dividing our party, and I think that this presidential election has descended into more of a schoolyard scuffle,” Mack said.

Ryan was quick to disavow the movement. His attorney sent a letter to the Federal Election Commission denying any participation in the PAC. “The speaker has not, and does not, explicitly or implicitly, authorize, endorse, or otherwise approve of the organization’s formation or activities,” read the letter.

While Ryan is undoubtedly groaning at the thought of either Cruz or Trump getting the nomination, these calls show that he’s at least willing to work with them. This is a ray of light for many in the Freedom Caucus, who supported Ryan last year with a great deal of wary hesitation. Congressmen in the caucus – along with many conservatives around the country – were outraged about the $30 billion in new spending that characterized Ryan’s omnibus bill. Some wondered if replacing John Boehner with Ryan had actually made any difference.

Maybe it did and maybe it didn’t. But at least there are now signs, however limited, that the Republican establishment is going to stop fighting their own voters.