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    Republican Race Puts Donald Trump and Paul Ryan on Collision Course

    Republican Race Puts Donald Trump and Paul Ryan on Collision Course

    WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, chairman of the Republican National Convention, recent vice-presidential candidate and the highest elected Republican in the country, has one goal for this year: to form a conservative policy agenda for the Republican presidential nominee to embrace.
    If that nominee is Donald J. Trump, that may be a waste of time.
    Panicked Republicans question whether Mr. Trump will be able to unite the Republican-controlled Congress that would normally be expected to promote and promulgate his agenda, an internal crisis nearly unheard-of in a generation of American politics. On nearly every significant issue, Mr. Trump stands in opposition to Republican orthodoxy and his party’s policy prescriptions — the very ideas that Mr. Ryan has done more than anyone else to form, refine or promote over the last decade.

    If the billionaire New York businessman captures his party’s nomination — which seemed increasingly possible after a decisive victory in Nevada Tuesday night — he will become the titular head of the Republican Party, and lawmakers like Mr. Ryan would normally be expected to fall in line for the balance of the campaign. It is something that many in the party think may be impossible.

    “You’re hitting on a very big problem, which is that Trump is not a Republican,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who recently dropped out of the race for the White House. “I have no idea how we reconcile a Donald Trump agenda with a Republican agenda. How do we write a platform?”

    Mr. Ryan’s positions embody the modern institutional Republican Party. He has been a crucial promoter of free trade on Capitol Hill, which Mr. Trump opposes. Mr. Ryan supports taking money from Planned Parenthood — a central target of Republicans for years — while Mr. Trump has said the group provides needed care to women. Eminent domain, the right of the government to seize private property for public use? Despised by Republicans. Mr. Trump, who has used eminent domain to try to demolish an older woman’s home in Atlantic City, calls it “wonderful.”

    There is more: Mr. Ryan is the architect of his party’s plan to rein in spending on entitlement programs, which Mr. Trump has said is the reason the party lost the White House in 2012, name-checking Mr. Ryan in his swipe. Mr. Ryan supports all forms of domestic energy development, but Mr. Trump has called for colonizing Iraq’s oil reserves through military intervention.

    Mr. Trump’s signature issue — deporting millions of undocumented workers — also stands in contrast to Mr. Ryan’s belief that his party needs to change to the current system to help some immigrants, and in the process attract them to the party. Not least, Mr. Trump said last week that he would be “a neutral guy” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but Mr. Ryan holds the traditional Republican position of strong support for Israel.

    This week, as Mr. Trump is once again bashing conservative notions, Mr. Ryan’s House is holding a series of members-only ideas forums on poverty, health care and other issues. Mr. Ryan also gives speeches and conducts television and radio interviews pretty much wherever he goes these days. But for now, Mr. Trump has the bigger microphone.

    “Everything about this cycle has presented a departure from routine,” said Kevin Madden, a Republican consultant. “In normal circumstances, you would expect the party to adjust to the nominee’s agenda. But in this case, you have a front-runner running on rhetoric, not substance.”

    Though the majority of Republicans are desperately hoping for the dust to settle and for Senator Marco Rubio to emerge as their nominee — his Capitol Hill endorsements stack up daily — some still murmur privately that in the event of Mr. Trump’s domination, they would like to see Mr. Ryan somehow emerge as a brokered nominee at the Republican National Convention in July.

    Some Republican lawmakers say, though nervously, that there would be plenty of intersection between their agenda and Mr. Trump’s. His tax plan — which calls for large tax cuts for all Americans, especially the rich — is similar to Mr. Ryan’s. Mr. Trump, like Mr. Ryan, is all for repealing and replacing the current health care law, although he, unlike Mr. Ryan, has endorsed the individual mandate.

    “In a lot of ways it might actually be conducive to getting things done to have someone with business sense in the White House,” said Representative Mick Mulvaney, Republican of South Carolina and a leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
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    Like Mr. Ryan, Mr. Trump also supports gun rights and a strong military, although Mr. Trump has broken with many Republicans with his scathing criticism of the Iraq war.
    “All of the Republican presidential candidates would be better than Hillary Clinton,” said AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Mr. Ryan. “And Speaker Ryan would be able to work with any one of them.”
    Some even argue that Mr. Ryan, who operated in lonely political waters before his party took over the House in 2011, will adjust to the environment and try to help Republicans in congressional races who, in many states, will be fighting for their lives.
    “Senate candidates will looking for someone who is going to serve as a lodestar in the contest of ideas,” Mr. Madden said. “In that sense, Paul Ryan becomes that much more important as it relates to the important differences between Republicans and Democrats.”
    History has few parallels. “Trump is kind of unusual in that he is not ideological, so it is hard to place him,” said Julian E. Zelizer, a professor at Princeton University and a specialist in American political history.
    Mr. Zelizer noted that Barry Goldwater sought a much more radical abolition of government than most of the Republicans in Congress in 1964 and that in 1976, Jimmy Carter was out of step with many of the central factions of the Democratic Party, including former House Speaker Tip O’Neill.
    Senator John McCain faced problems with House Republicans when he was the Republican nominee for president in 2008, particularly after years of battles with his own party over tax cuts, campaign finance laws, embryonic stem cell research and other issues. But he brought House Republicans in line, something Mr. McCain is not sure Mr. Trump would accomplish. “It all depends on what he does,” Mr. McCain said in an interview. “His positions are topsy-turvy. It’s just impossible to guess.”
    On the other side of the rotunda, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, has rejected the idea of turning Congress into a conservative think tank, opting instead for small scale, bipartisan legislation that he hopes will help vulnerable colleagues up for re-election and bolster the party’s image of making the trains run on time. That image, however, has been undermined by his decision to pre-emptively block any of Mr. Obama’s nominees for the Supreme Court. (On this, Mr. McConnell and Mr. Trump agree.)
    Congressional Republicans — especially senators up for re-election in swing states — have been terrified to criticize Mr. Trump by name because they need his voters, too, both in primary and possible general election battles. Undeniable terror is beginning to set in.
    “I finally got scared last night,” said Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, referring to Mr. Trump’s resounding victory in the Nevada caucuses on Tuesday. “As we get closer and people get more serious, I hope more people up here speak out.”
    Last edited by ALIPAC; 02-24-2016 at 08:24 PM.
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