Former House Speaker Paul Ryan was caught this week attempting to steer presidential endorsements to former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, as he has repeatedly warned the Republican Party against nominating former President Donald Trump — the clear frontrunner.
According to a tidbit from Politico Playbook, Ryan made a pitch for Haley to Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), chairman of the Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party, over text during a flight to D.C.
According to the outlet, which reviewed photographs of the text messages, Ryan wrote, “I think now is the time for a guy like you to endorse.”
“Plus, Her foreign policy/world views track closest to yours. She brings the most excitement. I like Ron, but don’t think he is the growth stock Niki [sic] is. Just following up per our talk [in] September. Go Packers!” he exclaimed.
A spokesperson for Gallagher emphasized that the congressman has “no intention to endorse any candidate at this time.”
The Fox News board member has long stood as an opponent of Trump, predicting in October 2022 that Trump would not be the Republican nominee in 2024.
“Trump’s unelectability will be palpable by then,” Ryan said during an interview at the time.
“We all know that he’s so much more likely to lose the White House than anybody else running for president on our side of the aisle, so why would we want to go with that?” he continued.
One month later, in November 2022, Trump formally announced his presidential bid and has dominated the primary race for well over one year, despite Ryan’s prediction that Trump’s “unelectability will be palpable by then.”
Reality has continued to strike Ryan hard, and in February 2023, he announced he would skip the 2024 Republican National Convention (RNC) — held in Milwaukee — if Trump wins the GOP primary.
“I’ll be here if it’s not named somebody Trump,” he said.
Over the summer, reality continued to sink in for Ryan, as he admitted it is possible for Trump to win the nomination — an obvious admission to anyone paying attention to the 2023 primary polls — and said it would be “dangerous” if he did.
“It is a disaster if we nominate Trump. You know I think that. I have been saying that for a long time. But Liz is right, which is, that he could win,” Ryan said during a June appearance on CNBC’s Squawk Box.
“I think we lose with him. I think we are much more likely to lose. We haven’t won with him since he first won in 16. We lost the House in ’18, the presidency in ’20, the Senate in ’20, and we could have won the Senate in 2022 but for him,” he said, emphasizing, “I’m for anybody not named Trump right now.”
“I’m a Never Again Trumper,” he added. “So, obviously, the 33 percent base doesn’t like a person like me. I’m very clear: I don’t think he’s fit, and I don’t think he could win. Liz is right: he could, and that is dangerous.”
Trump has fired back at Ryan on the campaign trail, promising conservatives that the GOP is “never going back to the party of Paul Ryan, Karl Rove, and Jeb Bush.”
During his 2023 CPAC speech, Trump said in part:
When we started this journey, a journey like there has never been before, there’s never been anything like this, we had a republican party that was ruled by freaks, Neocons, globalists, open borders, zealots and fools, but we are never going back to the party of Paul Ryan, Karl Rove and Jeb Bush.
Trump: "The Republican Party was ruled by freaks, neocons, open border zealots and fools. We're never going back to the party of Paul Ryan, Karl Rove, and Jeb Bush." pic.twitter.com/tA4h6lgExj— Greg Price (@greg_price11) March 4, 2023
Ryan’s plea to Gallagher to endorse comes as the race tightens between Gov. Ron DeSantis and Haley, as they both essentially battle it out for second place. However, neither has come within striking distance of Trump throughout the primary race; Trump leads by double digits nationally as well as in the early states of New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina.