CNN reports that a Ryan-affiliated Super PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, is raising serious cash from Republican donors who don’t support Trump, but want to ensure that the GOP continues to control the House of Representatives. “There is uncertainty at the top of the ticket and we have a significant group of donors who want to make sure that the House is a firewall,” Mike Shields, president of the CLF, told CNN. This month alone, the CLF has invested nearly $11 million in “about a dozen” competitive races.
This is in keeping with Ryan’s larger strategy of dealing with Trump, which has been to do the absolute bare minimum in support of the top of the ticket while focusing his attention on maintaining the Republican majority in the House. Ryan is sticking with his base, rich people who want lower taxes and gut entitlement programs, and this base does not care for Trump.
This should, in theory, be a win-win for Ryan. If Trump wins, he has a majority and can push through whatever granny-starving legislation he wants. If Trump loses, Ryan still has his majority, and will be in a position to make major changes to the party that will then be thrown out the window in 2020 when James Woods wins the nomination. It is undignified and cowardly, sure, but the strategic thinking is clear.
But Ryan is also confident in two things I am not: the first being that he and Trump could work together effectively if Trump wins, and the second being that his tepid support won’t be blamed by firebrands in the party if he loses.