Paul Ryan, Reince Preibus, and Scott Walker are all scheduled to appear with Trump tomorrow. That Ryan and Trump were finally sharing a stage was already newsworthy, given that they’ve held each other at arm’s length for Trump’s entire campaign. But the appearance in Wisconsin on Saturday just got significantly more interesting after The Washington Post published a recording of Trump bragging about trying to sleep with a married woman and claiming that being famous gave him license to sexually assault women.
Most of the focus on the “split” in the Republican Party has focused on ideology—on the fact that Trump is not a classic conservative. But the split between Ryan and Trump in particular has been as much about Trump’s rhetoric as anything else. Trump has largely come around to Ryan’s tax policies, for instance, and Ryan has reportedly assured people in the GOP that if Trump wins, he will usher in an Ayn Rand-ian libertarian paradise. In other words, Ryan would probably be totally fine with Trump if he didn’t say things like “grab them by the pussy.” Unfortunately for Ryan, millions of people will have heard Trump say exactly that less than 24 hours before he is scheduled to appear onstage with him.
Ryan (and Preibus and Walker) should send a strong signal and repudiate these comments. They probably should not appear on stage with Trump tomorrow. And it’s possible that, after this, they won’t. But if past is prologue, Ryan will likely continue playing the same cynical game he’s been playing for this entire election and pretend that he was doing Crossfit or whatever and has no idea what reporters are talking about.