Republican divisions fester over Trump takeover
House speaker Ryan offers to step aside as chairman in nominee-picking convention
Donald Trump: tensions between him and Paul Ryan continue to fester over the pivotal role at the Cleveland convention, where Mr Trump will presumably be named as presidential nominee. Photograph: Ted S Warren/AP Photo
Divisions among Republicans over Donald Trump’s takeover have deepened with Paul Ryan, the party’s highest elected official, saying he would step aside as chairman of the Republican National Convention in July if the billionaire requested it.
The tensions between Mr Trump and Mr Ryan, the Republican speaker of the US House of Representatives, continued to fester on Monday over the pivotal role at the convention in Cleveland, where Mr Trump will presumably be named the party’s presidential nominee.
“He’s the nominee. I’ll do whatever he wants with respect to the convention,” Mr Ryan told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in his home state of Wisconsin.
The chairman of the convention manages the event, including calling the roll of delegates in the vote for the Republican nomination. This would likely mean Mr Ryan, as the highest ranking Republican in Congress, would announce Mr Trump as the winner even though he doesn’t support him.
Mr Trump refused to rule out the possibility of removing Mr Ryan. “Let’s see what happens,” he said on Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press.
The two are scheduled to meet privately on Thursday at the Republican national committee offices in Washington.
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The reality TV star has said he was taken aback by Mr Ryan’s public declaration last week that he was “not ready” to support Mr Trump.
Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, who has endorsed the businessman, has said she will work to ensure that Mr Ryan is defeated in his re-election bid.
Mr Trump’s ascent on a bombastic campaign of insults and a staunchly anti-immigrant manifesto has splintered the party, leading four of its last five presidential nominees – George HW Bush, George W Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney – to decide to skip the party’s convention.
Some Republicans, including conservative writer Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard magazine, have intensified their search for a serious third-party candidate to run against Mr Trump and the likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.
“This is as much about the future of the party politics in America as anything else. This is not an anti-Republican effort or merely an anti-Trump effort,” said Republican strategist Joel Searby, who is involved in the search for an alternative.
Independent candidates have been blamed for splitting votes and contributing to the loss of party nominees – Ralph Nader for the defeat of Democrat Al Gore in 2000 and Ross Perot for the loss by president George HW Bush in 1992.
Mr Searby said that there is a “little bit of a false choice” between Mrs Clinton and Mr Trump, given her lead over him in the national polls.