Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan held a much-anticipated meeting on Thursday morning, hoping to move past their ideological differences to find a way to unify the Republican Party behind the most controversial nominee in modern history. And while few expected that the two would emerge from the meeting singing kumbaya, the initial signs appear favorable to reconciliation. Despite all of the talk of irreparable fractures, there is now reason to hope that Republicans will – reluctantly or not – recognize that the much bigger enemy is Hillary Clinton.
“Donald Trump and I have had our differences – we talked about those differences today,” Ryan said at a press conference. “I do believe that we are now planting the seeds to get ourselves unified.”
Ryan stopped short of throwing his full support behind Trump, but he appeared to be on the road to an endorsement. “I think we had a very encouraging meeting,” he said. “The question is what is it we need to do to unify the Republican party. We had a very good and encouraging productive conversation on just how to do that.”
Ryan said the billionaire showed some willingness to negotiate on certain issues of policy, a fact that should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed this campaign carefully. If there’s a consistent theme to Trump’s message, it’s that there is wiggle room on virtually anything. His reputation as a deal-maker, in fact, is one of the things his supporters love most about him.
In a joint statement, Ryan and Trump said they were focused on the big picture: Namely, taking the White House back from the Democrats.
“The United States cannot afford another four years of the Obama White House, which is what Hillary Clinton represents,” the pair said. “That is why it’s critical that Republicans unite around our shared principles, advance a conservative agenda, and do all we can to win this fall. With that focus, we had a great conversation this morning. While we were honest about our few differences, we recognize that there are also many important areas of common ground. We will be having additional discussions, but remain confident there’s a great opportunity to unify our party and win this fall, and we are totally committed to working together to achieve that goal. We are extremely proud of the fact that many millions of new voters have entered the primary system, far more than ever before in the Republican Party’s history. This was our first meeting, but it was a very positive step toward unification.”
Trump has a very good chance of winning this November, unified party or not. But if he can get the “establishment” behind him – even tacitly – Hillary Clinton is finished.