Earlier this afternoon, Paul Ryan was on Brian Kilmeade's show on Fox Radio. He was asked if the GOP had to make a choice between supporting Trump or going its own way. Ryan said this:
"We already made that choice. We’re with Trump . . We all agreed on that agenda."
This is a critical admission from Ryan which is going to come back to haunt him.
Trump is, needless to say, not popular. Yesterday Ed Gillespie, who had attempted to ape Trump's messaging and style, was soundly defeated in the Virginia gubernatorial race. It's a sure thing that, as Trump's approval ratings continue to languish, Republican candidates will not even try to do what he did and, rather, will attempt to distance themselves from Trump as much as they can. This is especially true in districts, such as mine, which did not support Trump nearly as strongly as they supported other Republicans in the past.
Ryan has foreclosed the possibility. Or, at the very least, he has made is such that any Republican who does not wish to be tied to Trump must likewise distance themselves from Ryan and the Republicans in Congress, whom Ryan leads. After all, now that Ryan has admitted that Trump's agenda is their agenda, it will become the agenda of candidates who seek the support of the Republican establishment. I don't know how a candidate can convincingly do that without closing off critical avenues of support, financial and otherwise. I don't know how you even get the nomination of your party while repudiating its leaders.
I do know, however, that anyone running against a Republican in 2018 should obtain audio of Ryan's comments today and pound the message home, over and over again, that there is no daylight between Republicans and Trump. That a vote for a Republican is a vote for Trump. There should not be a single Democratic campaign that does not paint its opponent with Ryan's "we're with Trump" declaration and who does not, when his or her opponent claims not to be, ask them to prove it.
This was a pretty stunning miscalculation by Ryan. I suspect he and many other Republican candidates will end up paying for it.