Ahead of presumptive 2016 GOP presidential nominee billionaire Donald Trump’s meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday in Washington, D.C. on Capitol Hill, the real estate magnate told Breitbart News that he looks forward to the meetings and expects great things will come of them.
Trump believes he will beat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with or without Ryan’s support, although he would much prefer party unity heading into the general election.
“I look forward to great meetings tomorrow and hopefully things will get going fast because having unity would be certainly much better, because we’re going to win,” Trump said in an in-person interview in his office on the 26th floor of Trump Tower in New York City. “We’re going to beat Hillary Clinton. And Paul Ryan is a person who I know wants to do the right thing—so I look forward to the meeting.”
Trump challenged the idea that there are drastic policy differences between himself and Ryan. Specifically on trade policy, he thinks Ryan will end up agreeing with him that America needs better trade deals because ultimately, he said, he is not opposed to doing trade deals as long as they have America’s best interests in mind. Trump said:
One of the big drastic policies is on trade. And what I want in trade is great deals. I’m fine with free trade, but all of our trade deals are doing horribly. It’s free trade for the other side, not for us. So I like free trade but all of our trade deals are doing terribly. What I want is great deals. You know what my trade policy is? I want to make great deals for the American people. It’s a very simple policy. You can call it anything you want—you can call it free trade, you can come up with three different names—but it’s a very simple policy: Make great deals for the American people.
Ryan has been in a tough spot since, during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper last week, he refused to endorse Trump for president, even though Trump is now the presumptive nominee of the party. Ryan’s actions have emboldened his primary challenger, Paul Nehlen, created division inside his own GOP conference in the House on Capitol Hill, endangered his party’s and his own future, and set off a firestorm inside the party that has had GOP officials on all sides scrambling to find a solution.
Ryan, the chief architect of Obamatrade in the House of Representatives, championed the passage last year of the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) fast track legislation that greases the skids for congressional approval of various trade deals such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Pacific Rim trade deal, which Trump adamantly opposes. Ryan supports TPP. TPA would also allow Obamatrade proponents to ram through the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA)—two less-talked-about trade deals that are just as dramatic as TPP.
According to Politico’s Jake Sherman, Ryan does not plan on pushing Trump on trade. That is something that does not seem to be an angle Trump will play with Ryan either, at least based upon Wednesday’s interview with Breitbart News.
“So here’s the House Speaker’s play, according to multiple people in Ryan’s inner circle: he wants Trump to understand where he is coming from,” Sherman wrote. “Ryan wants to try to steer the party’s national political dialogue — as embodied by Trump’s barbed rhetoric — in a better direction. He wants an open line of communication between his operation and Trump’s. He isn’t going to try to extract policy concessions from Trump — he understands they are unlikely to ever agree on trade or immigration — but he wants some recognition that Ryan has 247 members of the House that need to be re-elected, and they can’t do so while wincing through the general election in November.”
Ryan said at a press conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday morning that he looks forward to getting to know Trump.
“I don’t really know him,” Ryan said. “I met him once in person in 2012. We had a very good conversation in March on the phone.”
“We just need to get to know each other, and we as a leadership team are enjoying the fact that we have a chance to meet with him,” Ryan added.
Ryan did not, however, share any details of what he planned to discuss with Trump.
“I’d rather have a conversation in person than through the media, no offense,” Ryan said when pressed by reporters for details.
Ryan’s cold-shouldered approach to Trump so far runs directly counter to his counterpart on the other of the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell has embraced Trump as the GOP’s presidential pick, fully endorsing him last week.
“I have committed to supporting the nominee chosen by Republican voters, and Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee, is now on the verge of clinching that nomination,” McConnell said last week.
“Republicans are committed to preventing what would be a third term of Barack Obama and restoring economic and national security after eight years of a Democrat in the White House,” McConnell added.
After Trump meets with Ryan, he will meet with McConnell as well as part of his full day of meetings in Washington.