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Monday, June 13, 2016

What’s Ryan’s Game?

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, as the old saying goes, and that seems to be House Speaker Paul Ryan’s strategy when it comes to Donald Trump.

The highest-ranking Republican in Congress isn’t taking any chances. That’s why after dragging out his agony as long as possible in a friendly media, Ryan finally endorsed Trump. After all, this is a guy who is viewed favorably by only 59% of voters in his own party and is the symbol of a GOP-led Congress that is detested as much by Republicans as by other voters.

But at the same time Ryan doesn’t like his future prospects in a new realigned Trump-led Republican Party. So he plans to have it both ways. How else to explain Ryan’s criticism of Trump’s recent attacks on a Mexican-American judge as “racist,” even though he quickly followed it with a reminder that he still supports Trump’s candidacy? He could just as easily have said, “I don’t always agree with everything Mr. Trump says, but I still think he would be better for America than Hillary Clinton,” as other GOP critics did.

Instead, Ryan’s racism charge will live on during the upcoming general election campaign: Democrats will gleefully repeat it again and again with his name, title and party affiliation attached. Ryan’s been at the political game long enough to know that.

Now the speaker’s come out with an aggressive foreign policy game plan of his own that runs counter in several key ways to Trump’s avowed America First approach. It’s the same old pro-free trade, Bush neo-con foreign policy that voters rejected in the primaries. Ryan’s plan smacks of the GOP establishment’s last gasp effort at the 1980 Republican convention to saddle Ronald Reagan with Gerald Ford as a co-president in charge of foreign policy. Reagan quickly dismissed that idea.

With friends like Paul Ryan, Trump doesn’t need enemies.

For Rasmussen Reports, I’m Fran Coombs.