The Riggs Report: Trump’s speaker smackdown
Republicans continue to differ on support for presumptive nominee
Congressman Doug LaMalfa, R-Butte County, who is a fourth-generation rice farmer and muscle car enthusiast, believes that after months of discord, it’s time for party unity.
So for him, it’s a head-scratcher—Donald Trump’s confrontational remarks challenging House Speaker Paul Ryan’s decision not to endorse him at this point.
“So (Trump) needs to just act like the winner, OK?” LaMalfa said. “Be a little magnanimous in this thing, say, ‘Speaker Ryan, we’re going to talk,’ not talk about removing him or whatever.”
LaMalfa, who is in his second term representing California’s First Congressional District, is referring to Trump’s warning last week in broadcast interviews that he wouldn’t rule out removing Ryan as chairman of the Republican National Convention.
Trump was reacting to Ryan’s announcement that he was “just not ready” to endorse the presumptive nominee after John Kasich and Ted Cruz suspended their campaigns.
I chatted earlier this week with LaMalfa, who I got to know when he was a member of the state Legislature, at the family’s rice farm near Richvale. He defended Ryan’s decision to withhold an endorsement for now, saying Ryan “wants to be thoughtful with what he does.”
Ryan and Trump are scheduled to meet at some point Thursday, with Ryan telling the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “I just want to get to know the guy. We just don’t know each other.”
LaMalfa, who supported Marco Rubio, said he is as surprised as anyone by Trump’s ascent, but believes it’s critical for his fellow Republicans to set aside the squabbling over Trump and accept his nomination.
“He wasn’t my first choice either, but once I’m out of the voting booth and we’re given the tools we’re given to work with in Congress, I have a lot better chance working with Donald Trump ever, than with Hillary Clinton,” LaMalfa said.
There is still plenty of discord.
Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker are among Republicans who say they won’t support Trump’s candidacy.
These opponents question Trump’s conservative credentials, are unhappy with inflammatory remarks he’s made about women, immigrants and other groups, or differ on issues like overseas trade.
Does LaMalfa think Trump has the temperament to be president?
“Well he needs to learn it if he doesn’t,” LaMalfa said. “And I do think once the confrontation is over in this election process, and you get down and realize the enormity of what the United States stands for, what it takes to run it properly, I’ll be optimistic that he can harness that temperament in the direction it needs to go.”