“President” Paul Ryan?

FedUp PAC StaffPaul Ryan

FedUp Political Action Committee reported last week on the move by Republican establishment kingpin Earle Mack to stake $1 million to his “Committee to Draft Speaker Ryan” for the Republican presidential nomination. According to a statement released by Speaker Ryan’s office immediately following Mack’s announcement, the Speaker is “flattered but not interested.” Come to find out, though, Speaker Ryan seems a lot more interested now than he let on a week ago.

In fact, Ryan’s interest level appeared to go way up as the results were coming in the night of March 15 from crucial Republican primary voting in Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois and Missouri. During a televised interview on CNBC, Ryan admitted he has been approached about accepting the GOP nomination at a possibly deadlocked Republican convention in July. Ryan remarked, “People say ‘What about the contested convention?’ I say, well, there are a lot of people running for president. We’ll see. Who knows?” Later in the interview, Ryan categorically refused to rule out the possibility of accepting the nomination at the Republican convention. It’s a good bet that the outcome of the March 15 GOP primaries caused Speaker Ryan to change his tune.

When Ohio Governor John Kasich won the Ohio primary on Tuesday, the victory was enough to convince Kasich to stay in the Republican race. Still, winning the nomination is an almost impossible task for Kasich. As much as the Republican establishment would like to see Kasich replace Marco Rubio as the main challenger to outsider candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, the Kasich victory was too little, too late.

The main impact of Kasich winning in Ohio was to take away 66 delegates that would have otherwise gone to second-place Ohio finisher Donald Trump. Losing the Ohio delegates makes Trump’s path to the majority of 1,237 delegates he needs to win the Republican nomination nowhere near as smooth as it looked earlier that day. Ted Cruz added to his delegate total on March 15, but he faces challenges of his own winning the majority necessary to clinch the nomination despite Rubio’s exit from the campaign.

Not surprisingly, media analysis of the March 15 results focused on what would happen at the Republican convention in the event neither Trump nor Cruz has enough delegates to win a first-ballot vote. Rest assured that GOP power brokers are planning for exactly such an outcome. That explains the formation of the Committee to Draft Speaker Ryan. Establishment darling Paul Ryan fits perfectly into any scheme by GOP elites to hijack the Republican convention and cut both Trump and Cruz out of the picture. For one thing, Ryan has proved more than willing to do the establishment’s bidding. What’s more, as Speaker of the House, Ryan will preside over the convention. That role puts him in a prime position to usher in a suspension of party rules necessary to have his name placed in nomination. Without Ryan’s control, rigging the rules against anti-establishment outsiders Trump and Cruz would be nearly impossible.

Lost amid the media’s breathless excitement over the possibility of a deadlocked convention and the establishment’s closed-door scheming is the will of millions of grassroots conservative voters who have given their support to either Trump or Cruz. If the establishment succeeds in hijacking the Republican convention, conservatives will see their votes cancelled as if they were never cast in the first place. Paul Ryan should think very carefully about whether that’s how he wants to “win” the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.