So here’s the House speaker’s play, according to multiple people in Ryan’s inner circle: he wants Trump to understand where he is coming from. Ryan wants to try to steer the party’s national political dialogue — as embodied by Trump’s barbed rhetoric — in a better direction. He wants an open line of communication between his operation and Trump’s. He isn’t going to try to extract policy concessions from Trump — he understands they are unlikely to ever agree on trade or immigration — but he wants some recognition that Ryan has 247 members of the House that need to be re-elected, and they can’t do so while wincing through the general election in November.
It might work, it might not. Ryan could endorse Trump at some point — but there are no guarantees. His posture: at least I tried to make things work…
All of these decisions are laced with peril for Ryan. If Ryan does endorse Trump, he could be seen as caving to the New York billionaire after months of deeming his rhetoric problematic and not emblematic of the Republican Party. A Ryan endorsement could disappoint the conservative intelligentsia, which has applauded Ryan’s courage. In short, lining up with Trump is a major risk to Ryan’s brand.
But should he not endorse Trump, Ryan could be seen as a man who worsened a major rift within the Republican Party. He could alienate the grassroots, who helped rocket Trump to the top of the party.