Paul Ryan consistently calls out Donald Trump for his bigoted remarks. He does this in an apparently sincere manner. He doesn’t say that Trump’s problems are caused by the press or that Trump’s freedom of speech is being stifled by political correctness. His criticism is straight forward and honest. At the same time he has endorsed Trump for the Presidency.
Talking heads and columnist have proposed various theories for this contradiction. I have my own theory. Why has Ryan endorsed Trump? Because he wants him to win. Why does Ryan call out Trump for his bigoted remarks? Because he wants him to win. Confusing? Yes but politics in a complex game.
Ryan is playing Mr. Outside. He is appealing to voters who want to vote for a Republican but are put off by Trump’s bigoted remarks. Each time Ryan criticizes Trump and espouses the principles of the party of Lincoln he endears himself to voters who are put off by bigotry. But by endorsing Trump he sends a message to voters that it is acceptable to vote for Trump even if you are put off by his bigoted remarks. He can’t legitimize Trump but perhaps he can legitimize voting for Trump.
While Ryan is playing Mr. Outside Trump will play Mr. Inside by keeping his grip on the latest addition to the Republican coalition, the Ku Klux Klan and American Nazis Party.