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This will be music to the "Never Trump" segment of the Republican Party. It appears as though at least one prominent member is at least considering a run for the 2020 nomination against Trump. Paul Ryan, who retired from Congress less than three months ago, started to lay the groundwork to unseat Trump as President. His remarks during a speech at Vero Beach may seem like advice to the current Oval Office Occupant, but they are a direct warning: Shape up or getting ready to be shipped out.
Of course, those are not his exact words. Ryan, for all of the baggage that he brings to the field, is a polished politician who knows how to play the game better than just about everyone—with the exception of Hillary Clinton. That comparison would make him see red, well, redder than he already does (sorry bad pun), but it is also very apt. Both are very divisive figures within their own bases, but also inspire fierce loyalty among their fans and can whip up a frenzy with one statement.
For Ryan, that statement was that Trump could be defeated in the 2020 election. This appears to be the first time a member of the Republican Party elite has said such a thing in public; who knows what is said behind closed doors... until it's leaked. Ryan in part said, “The person who defines that race is going to win the race. If this is about Donald Trump and his personality, he isn’t going to win it,” and for the first time ever, it would seem that Ryan and Democrats agree on something. Who knew Trump was inspiring bipartisanship?
A lot of the comments on the articles about Ryan's words were trying to say that Trump's personality carried him all the way to the White House in the first place. The commenters are wrong. Yes, his personality played a part—that is undeniable. But his border wall and tough stance on immigration ignited a movement, and that should not be ignored. And the strategy employed to focus on the Electoral College was perfect. While Hillary focused on the issues that mattered to most people, Trump found one that resonated with the flyover states and that swept him into office. His plan for 2020 seems to be to rest on his laurels, being the incumbent, and slathering his potential opponents with derogatory nicknames.
While that may have worked for a first-time politician, it won't work again. Looking at the 2018 midterm elections, there was a clear message sent to the Trump administration. Even more telling, Ryan retired from the Speaker position before he knew for sure that Republicans would lose the House to Democrats. At the time, many people speculated that he was readying for a run at the White House. Another contingent seemed to believe that he would be named Trump's VP, but that seems as likely as a Ryan/Clinton ticket on the ballot.
After dropping the bomb that Trump can't win without focusing on issues, he went and focused on issues. He lamented the fact that his tenure as Speaker of the House was largely inadequate because he had to fight factions in his part to repeal and replace ObamaCare. It was here that he began to transform from a young, has-been Congressman to Presidential contender. By admitting he didn't accomplish much and offering a reason as to why he has circumvented any potential minefields that could derail his campaign.
Unlike his potential primary enemy, he owned his mistake and seemed sincere in trying to do better when or if he was offered another chance. Would he be able to defeat Trump in a primary? That's a question that is so loaded, it's almost a Trump Tweet. The short answer is it's possible. With Mueller's report said to be dropping soon, and any number of other political bombs waiting to drop, Trump is probably at his most vulnerable at this moment.
Yet, Teflon Don has withstood more scandals and faux pas than any other modern politician, so it would be a mistake to write him off just yet. What Ryan is saying though is that even teflon sometimes has things that stick to it, and maybe it's time for Republicans to try and get their party back together. Perhaps, maybe even try a little bipartisanship to ease the divide the country has seen the last few years. And that may just make him a frontrunner to be the one to defeat Trump.