It’s no secret that House Speaker Paul Ryan isn’t Donald Trump’s biggest fan. He was slow to endorse the GOP presidential nominee and has been critical of Trump on several occasions. But because his position as Speaker Of the House makes him currently the top elected Republican in the country, Ryan has to be the guy who tries to bring Republicans together to support a candidate who is less than desirable for many. On Tuesday morning he tried to rationalize why Republicans should all be working to elect Trump, using a college football analogy. It did not go well.
CNN reports that Ryan’s remarks came during a breakfast meeting with Texas delegates to the Republican convention, so he was trying to sell Trump to a room filled with mostly Ted Cruz supporters. That may have been his first mistake. But his attempt to woo them with the logic followed by some sports fans that you root for the team that beat your team was definitely his worst decision.
Ryan starts by telling the group that he likes to hunt, and he has two dogs named “Boomer” and “Sooner.” For those who don’t follow college sports, those are names associated with the University of Oklahoma. So right away he had dug himself a small hole, by referring to the school that is one of the rivals of Texas colleges like TCU, Texas Tech and the University of Texas. And what is a guy from Wisconsin, who attended college at Miami University, doing with dogs named for the Oklahoma team anyway? Shouldn’t he have named them something like “Lombardi” and “Favre?”
After introducing his dogs, Ryan brings up the rivalry between the University of Texas Longhorns and the Texas A&M Aggies. He says,
When one of the teams advances to a big bowl game or a national championship, don’t you root for the Aggies if you’re a Longhorn? Don’t you root for the Longhorns if you’re an Aggie?
Ryan seems shocked when the crowd tells him NO! “You don’t?” he says with a nervous laugh.
“This whole riff was not worth it,” he continues. “My entire premise has just been obliterated.”
While some sports fans subscribe to Ryan’s thinking, many more, especially where college sports are involved, would never consider cheering on the teams from a rival school. So while it was Ryan’s intent to convince Republicans who supported other candidates in the primaries to back Trump, his football analogy may have bolstered the convictions of some who want no part of the GOP candidate. There has been some talk about ceding this election to Hillary, then coming back to try and prevent her re-election in 2020. Sports fans know that after a losing season “there’s always next year,” and Ryan may have inadvertently provided them with a reason to stay on the bench for this election.
Here are Paul Ryan’s comments about football, via CNN: