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Trump, McConnell and Ryan: an unlikely new power trio for DC


    In this Nov. 10, 2016, photo, President-elect Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., pose for photographers after a meeting in the Speaker’s office on Capitol Hill in Washington. Washington’s new power trio consists of a bombastic billionaire, a telegenic policy wonk, and a taciturn political tactician. How well they can get along will help determine what gets done over the next four years, and whether the new president’s agenda founders or succeeds.

WASHINGTON >> Washington’s new power trio consists of a bombastic billionaire, a telegenic policy wonk, and a taciturn political tactician. How well they can get along will help determine what gets done over the next four years, and whether the new president’s agenda flounders or succeeds.

President-elect Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell make up an unlikely alliance, one defined in advance mostly by Trump’s opposition to the Washington establishment that Ryan and McConnell exemplify.

Trump and Ryan clashed throughout the campaign, with Trump taking offense when Ryan initially refused to endorse him and later distanced himself over the audio of Trump talking about groping women.

“Paul Ryan, a man who doesn’t know how to win (including failed run four years ago), must start focusing on the budget, military, vets etc.,” Trump groused over Twitter last month.

But that was then, this is now, as Ryan, the GOP’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, said Thursday after meeting with Trump at the Capitol.

“The past is in the past,” Ryan said in an interview on Fox News Channel. “This was an unconventional year, he was an unconventional candidate, but the point is we unified, especially at the right point, at the end. And it worked.”

Indeed, thanks partly to Trump’s coattails, Ryan and McConnell limited expected losses to their majorities and will enter the new administration with control of both chambers of Congress and the White House. For now the glow of victory appears to be soothing past tensions. And Republicans aligned with all three note they have something very important in common: They need each other.

“Ryan needs Trump to accomplish his policy agenda,” said GOP Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, in comments that apply to McConnell as well. “Trump needs Ryan to get things to his desk.”

There are well-known policy disagreements to navigate on issues like trade, immigration, Medicare and Social Security, where Trump’s proposals and campaign rhetoric often flew in the face of Ryan and McConnell’s standard business-friendly Republican approach.

But Trump’s own unfamiliarity with the tedious business of legislating, and unformed policy positions in some cases, may give Ryan and McConnell a unique opportunity to fill in the details. That would be a welcome role for both – McConnell as a deeply experienced legislator and dealmaker, and Ryan as an eager wonk who chaired the Ways and Means Committee before becoming House speaker. Ryan is steeped in details on reforming taxes and reshaping entitlement spending — although Trump has been critical of Ryan’s past budget proposals.

“I don’t think there’s any question that a President Trump will be looking for legislative expertise,” said Josh Holmes, McConnell’s former chief of staff. “Some of that comes from the staff that he hires, and some of that will come from allies on Capitol Hill.”

Moreover, Ryan’s personal political future, including potential presidential ambitions of his own, may depend in part on how effectively he manages the relationship with Trump.

The speaker’s tepid embrace of Trump during the campaign angered some conservatives in his conference, stirring talk that he could face a challenge to his speakership.

But Ryan’s enthusiastic response to Trump’s victory appears to have diminished any appetite for a leadership coup. The wide majority he will continue to enjoy next year — with at least 240 Republicans in the 435-member House, compared to 247 now — also reduces the potential for mischief by a small band of disgruntled conservatives.

“Victory soothes lots of differences,” said GOP Rep. Chris Collins of New York, a top Trump backer. “The mood of us right now is we can’t waste any time with recriminations and finger-pointing. My God, we won!”

Unlike Ryan, McConnell was quick to endorse Trump as soon as he clinched the GOP nomination. McConnell never wavered on that, nor provoked Trump’s ire over Twitter. At 74, McConnell has reached the long-sought pinnacle of his career as Senate majority leader, and unlike Ryan, 46, has no potential higher ambitions to manage.

Just as important, McConnell is known for professional relationships that are all business and have nothing to do with personality. So even though the closed-mouth Kentuckian would seem to have nothing in common with a freewheeling, thrice-married Manhattanite like Trump, allies say that doesn’t matter to McConnell.

That said, both men could face opposition from members of Trump’s inner circle, particularly Stephen Bannon. Bannon was chief executive of the conservative news site Breitbart before assuming a role in Trump’s campaign and is under consideration for a senior spot in Trump’s White House.

Just before Ryan’s primary race in July, with Bannon still at the helm of Breitbart, the site called the speaker a hypocrite for building a “border wall” around his Janesville, Wisconsin, mansion when he refused to support Trump’s southern border wall proposal. Breitbart continued attacking Ryan this fall, publishing a lengthy post titled, “He’s with her: Inside Paul Ryan’s months-long campaign to elect Hillary Clinton president.”

Breitbart has also slammed McConnell, criticizing him over occasions where he bestowed lukewarm praise on Clinton and criticized Trump’s undisciplined campaigning.

What position Trump gives Bannon versus Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, a Trump confidante and close Ryan ally, may be a signal as to how the incoming president plans to collaborate, or not, with the congressional leadership.


Associated Press writers Julie Bykowicz and Alan Fram contributed to this report.

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  • . . . thanks partly to Trump’s coattails, Ryan and McConnell limited expected losses to their majorities and will enter the new administration with control of both chambers . . .

    Trump’s coattails, my my my.


    Wonder what ever became of Klastri and Ike from the poison ivy league (in his case Yale). Smug, conceited elitists of that ilk seem to be very scarce these days.

    • It’s been a while since I’ve heard klastri popping off on Trump. It’s been nice and quiet since his departure. He’s probably crying in his parent’s basement as we speak.

      • Haaaayyy! Keoni did he finally get the remaining states? Do you have a link?
        Trying to find the story…..I know in Michigan, Trump leads by a slim margin of 13K votes over Hillary….still counting. We better send Scot Nago there to straighten things out Haaaaaaaaaaaaa!

        • The EV totals are a little different but still looks like DJT won both the EV & Popular Vote…they trying to sort out the fraud votes!

    • Morning Thos, we are having wonderful days since the election on Tuesday. I agree with your post. With President-Elect Trump meeting and working together with Sen. McConnell and Rep. Ryan, they will jointly initiate the 29 contract items with the voters in the first 100 days of President Trumps term. A huge change in direction of our Country.

  • Now the liberals are complaining about who Trumps puts into his cabinet. They need to get over it they lost, he won they should be bending over he doesn’t need to apologize about out campaigning their candidate and winning. The only cabinet that Hillary is putting together is in her Kitchen, the one she probably tore out in anger over her loss on Tuesday.

      • You have to understand two things.

        >> Some of the most vicious, mean spirited people you can find are teachers in sharp contrast to the imaginary self image they like to brag about. By no means all teachers. Some really are compassionate, caring and tolerant and we are fortunate they teach.

        >> Teachers in a closed shop state like ours have no choice but to passively watch as part of their paycheck is forked over to the union twice a month whether or not they “join”. And as you may know HSTA is an NEA affiliate which in turn is the wholly owned subsidiary of the DNC. Again, and in contrast to the public image, very little tolerance for any real diversity when it comes to politics.

      • Sorry, I lost nothing. I wasn’t playing a game and my ego and self-image do not depend upon who is the President. (I don’t like American Football either)

  • Neither Ryan and McConnell are to be trusted and Trump would be wise to play along with them for now but not to place any reliance on them.
    If possible, he should see if he can get others to take their place as soon as feasible.

    • My thoughts exactly – it was unforgivable that Ryan did not support Trump after he won the caucuses. Ryan must take responsibility for fractioning the party along with the Bush characters. Ryan, like Hillary, cannot be trusted.

      • It should also be recalled that Ryan can talk the talk with the best of them but when it comes to walking the walk, not so much.

        You may recall him making a big noise about “returning to regular order” before he became Speaker – – the traditional 13 spending bills passed and signed before the 30 Sep EOFY. And how did he do? Same old gutless, path of least resistance, continuing resolution crap as before. No doubt he will cave on any tough decisions when it comes to “automatically” raising the debt ceiling – – unless Trump takes him to the woodshed and demands that he do his job for a change.

  • “An unlikly New Power”
    This is truly a laughable moment…..Now we have or had all these Two Faced Republicans dissing President Trump prior to the election,and now we have them smiling and acting so nice,Oh Yeah! He’s my best buddy, Can we be friends, Text me OK?,kissing his ring! Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Can’t make this stuff up Folks!
    Helllooooo…. We the people know your game and it wasn’t for the People! It was only,because you were thinking only for yourself.
    There is a lot,the Republicans needs to be thankful to Pres.Donald Trump ,he saved alot of their seats ,excluding New Hamshire,Kelly Ann Ayot.
    Who from the Get Go was Trashing Trump “Big League”!
    Now get this. Trump is concidering her,along with other contenders, to be his Secretary?

    Where are The Hateful Eight? Did they leave the country? Or was it “All Talk and NO Action”.

    Did you see how foolish those Hollywood celebrities look,claiming they would leave the USA ,if Trump won the presidency? Now they are saying: “I’ve changed my Mind”. Now reports are coming out,that Canada is building “A Wall” too and said they “Don’t want the Celebrities coming to Canada”Haaaaaaaaa!
    I would have had more respect for them,if they stood by their word and just left.IMUA!

  • AT least you won’t hear the old horse from Kentucky making comments about Trump being a one term President like he did Obama. Put him out to pasture.Trump will probably put he and Ryan in their place.

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