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Did Paul Ryan expect Trump to cave?

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Ryan’s demand that the presumptive Republican nominee begin adopting the GOP’s principles bears some resemblance to a debate exchange between Trump and Jeb Bush back in September 2015, after Trump made some rude insinuation’s about Bush’s wife. “Why don’t you apologize to her right now,” Bush thundered. Trump said no. And just like, Bush’s attempt to appear gallant made him appear even weaker.

On Sunday, Trump similarly gave zero ground to Ryan. “I’m going to do what I have to do—I have millions of people that voted for me,” Trump told ABC’s This Week. “So I have to stay true to my principles also. And I’m a conservative, but don’t forget, this is called the Republican Party. It’s not called the Conservative Party.” Trump went so far as to suggest that Ryan had disqualified himself from serving as the ceremonial chairman at the Republican National Convention in July.

The two men are set to meet on Thursday. Trump goes in with an advantage, which is that his personal brand is far stronger than the GOP brand among Republican voters. If Ryan fails to emerge from that meeting with at least a symbolic concession, then his bold stand against Trump could end up backfiring—the latest evidence that the party doesn’t have the strength to stop Trump from doing whatever he wants.