POLITICO put that garbage out earlier today with a splashy headline, but come on.
On the eve of the Wisconsin primaries, top Republicans are becoming increasingly vocal about their long-held belief that Speaker Paul Ryan will wind up as the nominee, perhaps on the fourth ballot at a chaotic Cleveland convention.
One of the nation’s best-wired Republicans, with an enviable prediction record for this cycle, sees a 60 percent chance of a convention deadlock and a 90 percent chance that delegates turn to Ryan — ergo, a 54 percent chance that Ryan, who’ll start the third week of July as chairman of the Republican National Convention, will end it as the nominee.
“He’s the most conservative, least establishment member of the establishment,” the Republican source said. “That’s what you need to be.”
Ryan, who’s more calculating and ambitious than he lets on, is running the same playbook he did to become speaker: saying he doesn’t want it, that it won’t happen. In both cases, the maximum leverage is to not want it — and to be begged to do it. He and his staff are trying to be as Shermanesque as it gets. Ryan repeated his lack of interest Monday morning in an interview from Israel with radio host Hugh Hewitt.
Of course in this environment, saying you don’t want the job is the only way to get it. If he was seen to be angling for it, he’d be stained and disqualified by the current mess.
Everybody is so fired up about dropping Ryan in at the convention and defying the will of the vast majority of Republican voters that POLITICO’s source wouldn’t even go on the record about doing it.
But it’s not all that hard to figure out who the source for Mike Allen’s piece is…
On “Morning Joe” Monday morning, Joe Scarborough said that if Trump falls even one vote short of a clinch, the convention will “look for someone else”: “If Trump doesn’t get the number, they’ll say they have rules for a reason.” And Karl Rove told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt last week: “A fresh face might be the thing that would give us a chance to turn this election and win in November against Hillary.”
Top Republicans say “fresh face” is code for “Paul Ryan.”
A Ryan friend chuckled when we asked if he wants it, and pointed to last month’s address: “That was somebody who was laying out the speech that, in most cases, you’d give six months before you announce you’re going to run – when you’re going around the country, raising money for your leadership PAC.”
If it’s not Rove, it’s somebody who’s a whole lot like him.
This business of bringing in an “establishment” ringer at the convention flies in the face of obvious reality, which is that the Republican convention is the delegates to that convention.
And those delegates are not chosen by the “establishment” bigwigs in DC who somehow have this magical ability to transcend the primaries. They’re chosen by the state parties. And contra the K Street muckety-mucks, who by the way are so brilliant that they couldn’t even find a candidate to win primary elections with and couldn’t even keep their plans confidential from cable movie channels to televise, state parties don’t choose delegates based on the wishes of the DC establishment. State parties are generally controlled by conservative activists.
Anybody who’s paying attention to how those state conventions have been going and who they’re choosing to go to Cleveland can tell you there isn’t going to be some deadlock that results in a brokered convention. The vast majority of the delegates in Cleveland will be Trump people and Cruz people.
And based on all the buzz coming out of the state conventions, a lot of the Trump people are actually Cruz people, which would indicate that when the convention in Cleveland goes to a 2nd ballot there will be a pretty solid majority for Cruz.
What’s patently obvious is the Trump people and Cruz people will be considerably more likely to back each other than some third party who didn’t even run. Like Ryan. Allahpundit at Hot Air pops this balloon with delight…
Sketch me a scenario where Trump and Cruz delegates descend on Cleveland for a populist duel to the death in balloting and somehow end up steering around to Paul Ryan on the fourth ballot. Assuming the possibility of a dark-horse candidate hasn’t been foreclosed by the rules, isn’t it more likely we’d end up with someone like Rick Perry who has some border cred andsome populist appeal? It can’t be overstated how absurd it would seem, after more than a year of populism dominating the primaries, for the guy who was “next in line” all along to be handed the nomination at the convention by establishmentarians after he didn’t even run. It would risk wrecking the party almost as surely as nominating Trump would. And really, why would Ryan even want it? If he could emerge from the convention with the party unified behind him, that would be one thing. As it is, with Trumpers deserting the GOP en masse after the nomination is “stolen” from him and Cruz fans enraged that Cruz’s tireless work to stop Trump was rewarded by having the nomination “stolen” from him too, the GOP would lie in pieces. Ryan would end up as a sacrificial lamb for Hillary, especially once she went to work on his record on entitlements. (I’d say there’s a nonzero chance that some Trump fans would cross over and support her against Ryan, partly due to entitlement fears and partly out of sheer spite.) How is this a good outcome for anyone?
Allow me an alternative theory behind this Ryan-as-parachuted-nominee business: this isn’t about actually picking a nominee, because they know that isn’t going to happen. What it’s really about is the Beltway crowd trying to preserve some degree of leverage over Trump and Cruz, and more specifically Cruz since he’s beginning to look like the guy who’ll have the delegates to control the convention.
They’ve been trying to gain leverage over Cruz ever since it became obvious he’s going to be the anti-Trump candidate rather than a Jeb Bush or a Marco Rubio. Remember how it was demanded that Cruz apologize to Mitch McConnell for calling him a liar? Now, it’s a threat to drop Ryan in as the nominee at the convention after all the work Cruz has put in to sidetrack Trump and deny him the 1237 delegates in the primaries.
But it’s an empty threat, because you need the majority of the delegates to nominate a presidential candidate. And Cruz will have them (if in fact Trump does not).
These guys have run their course as power brokers within the GOP. They did a poor job. They gave us ineffective opposition to Bill Clinton, an ineffective presidency under George W. Bush that squandered majorities in both houses of Congress and wholly ineffective opposition to Barack Obama. Had Trump not come along they would be prostrate before Cruz or some other grassroots conservative candidate who would have taken the primaries by storm and probably clinched the nomination by now.
The anti-establishment vote has swelled to better than two-thirds of the GOP electorate in this cycle. There is nothing the DC insider gang can do to stop that vote from producing a nominee. It’s either going to be Trump or Cruz. It certainly won’t be Paul Ryan or some other guy Karl Rove is pushing.