Paul Ryan Jake Tapper Split
Speaker Ryan on Trump, GOP unity: "we're not there yet"
07:02 - Source: CNN

Editor’s Note: SE Cupp is the author of “Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media’s Attack on Christianity,” co-author of “Why You’re Wrong About the Right” and a columnist at the New York Daily News. The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.

Story highlights

SE Cupp says Ryan is deeply committed to conservative ideology

Trump puts on and takes off that ideology like a tie, she says

She asks: Will Trump try to get conservatives behind him?

CNN  — 

Yes, it was nothing short of stunning to watch a sitting speaker of the House go on live television with the express purpose of telling the presumptive presidential nominee of his own party that he is not able to support him at this time.

But that’s exactly what Paul Ryan did on Thursday, telling Jake Tapper he’s just not ready to get behind Donald Trump.

On the one hand, the message was, “help me help you.” Ryan wants a nominee Republicans can be proud of, and is asking the profanity-prone, Twitter-abusing, equal opportunity offender to rise to the occasion and become more presidential.

But more importantly, what we saw was an influential political leader doing what so few seem to do anymore: stand by his convictions.

I know the speaker, and his conservatism runs deep. Where Trump puts conservatism on like one of his own ties, and then takes it off to slip into something more comfortable at the end of the day, Ryan’s conservatism is grafted into his skin. It is studied, it is serious, it is contemplative and thoughtful. It is his personal and political foundation. In a stormy sea, Ryan is moored. Trump drifts aimlessly.

Both in style and substance, Trump’s reckless and seemingly spontaneous solutions to the country’s problems are anathema to everything Ryan is about. Many of Trump’s policies are neither conservative nor constitutional, and they are a setback to the decadeslong efforts Ryan has made to grow the party with new voters.

Trump and his supporters will meet Ryan’s call to arms predictably, with ad hominem attacks on Ryan and his “establishment” ties, accusing him of ignoring the voters and subverting the will of the people.

But what this fails to acknowledge is that there are plenty of Republican voters who are not with Trump. Ryan knows the hard lessons of the past few presidential elections – that Republicans cannot win without an enthusiastic base. Why would he believe they can win without the other half of the party?

Trump has promised to unify the party. But unifying isn’t telling a wide swath of people, many of whom you’ve been insulting as “hacks” and “losers” for months, to “get on board,” or else. Just as Trump’s supporters cannot be dismissed, neither should the millions of Republican voters he has failed to pull in. Ryan is making an effort to bridge these factions by urging Trump himself to take the lead.

Whether he will is anyone’s guess. But one thing should not be in question, and that is Paul Ryan’s unmatched integrity and unwavering commitment to the conservative cause.

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