House Speaker Paul Ryan’s speech at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday evening wasn’t the red-meat rant of Rudy Giuliani the night before or the crowd-pleasing “prosecution” of Hillary Clinton that Chris Christie performed.
And it’s been panned by convention pundits.
But if the GOP loses the election of 2016 and Donald Trump returns to his Fifth Avenue tower, plotting a way to revive The Apprentice – The Campaign Apprentice, maybe – the remains of the GOP will be the party of Paul Ryan.
Since the Trump Takeover, Ryan has walked a fine line between the Republican establishment – the Bush-Romney-Koch-Kristol wing of the party – that has disavowed its own nominee and the angry populist insurgents. Clearly, he has done a better job than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was booed more than once when he spoke before the convention, in positioning himself as the Great White Hopeful Return to Sanity.
In his speech, Ryan called for party unity, but as Reuters reports, he has been pushing his own agenda behind the scenes in Cleveland. An adviser to GOP super-donor Paul Singer called Ryan the “antidote” to all the frustration, and presumably impotency, that the establishment feels with having the national showcase snatched out of its hands.
Ryan’s “Better Way” blueprint of where to take the country is at once a more traditional Republican path on the economy, taxes and national security and a methodical vision in competition with the fiery, off-the-cuff positions taken by Trump.
More important, if the GOP’s 2012 vice-presidential candidate is able to save Congress from a Democratic sweep, he is going to be a hero to his party with a Santa Claus-sized sack of IOUs from politicians across the country whose bacon he has saved from what could be a Trump inferno on Nov. 8.
To pull that off, Ryan needs money, and he’s getting it.
According to The Hill, the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee will have raised close to $48 million between January and June, its biggest six-month haul ever. Most of that is being attributed to Ryan’s fund-raising prowess.
But also driving that fat-cat number, The Hill says, is the fact that a lot of the GOP’s big donors are declining to put their money where Trump’s mouth is and are supporting Ryan and his fellow down-ballot candidates instead.
With such a bright future for Paul Ryan riding on an Election Day disaster for Trump, wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall of his polling place in Janesville, Wisconsin, to see if he pulls the lever for Hillary?