How Paul Ryan is trying to hold the GOP together

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," April 12, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


REP. PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I do not want nor will I accept the nomination for our party. So let me speak directly to the delegates on this. If no candidate has a majority in the first ballot, I believe that you should only choose from a person who has actually participated in the primary. Count me out. I chose not to do this, therefore I should not be considered, period, end of story. I am not going to be our party's nominee.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: House Speaker Paul Ryan today very adamant, much more adamant than he was that he was not going to be House speaker, that he is not going to be a nominee for the Republican Party, saying it should be from the people who decided to throw their hats into the ring. Well on the GOP side, that would not limit you much. There were 17 at the beginning of this race.

Let's start there with our panel, syndicated columnist George Will, Amy Walter, national for The Cook Political Report, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

Amy, as we look at the GOP delegate count, today officially Missouri went into Donald Trump's category, so he'll add some more delegates to this, I think roughly 15. But he's leading by 198. The going bet is that he may fall short by the time you get to California of the 1,237. And if that's the case, a contested convention goes to ballots. Ryan, why did he feel compelled today to do what he did?

AMY WALTER, COOK POLITICAL REPORT: Paul Ryan is getting a whole lot of pressure from people inside of Washington. What he is not hearing is pressure outside of Washington. And when he said, I will not -- I don't think anybody who has not been running should be on the ballot, he is affirming what we've seen in poll after poll, 60 percent plus of Republicans saying if you didn't run and you were not on the ballot, you shouldn't be able to get the nomination. So he is falling really in line with where the rest of America is, maybe not where folks inside Washington are.

I think the challenge right now for everybody who is not Donald Trump is to make the case effectively that even though he will wind up short of delegates he will still have the most votes, he will still have the most delegates, and why the system is not rigged. It is not a joke. It is not the establishment trying on thwart him. It is the rules. That is a tougher argument to make than the momentum argument, which is the one Trump has.

BAIER: The RNC continues, George, to try to make it. Reince Priebus on Twitter last night, "The rules were set last year. Nothing mysterious. Nothing new. The rules have not changed. The rules are the same. Nothing different." Setting up for what is going to be, it looks like a really interesting ride to Cleveland.

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, running for president is hard because it is not one campaign. It is 56 campaigns. It's 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, et cetera. And it is supposed to be hard. It's supposed to test presidential attributes, one of which is to plan ahead and look over the horizon, and another of which is to staff up with good people. The first thing a president does is staff the government with about 3,000 important policy making positions. So in that case, the rules are transparent. They're out there. They vary, and it is hard work.

I'm going to say something about Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan didn't just take Paul Ryan out of the mix today. He took out dozens, scores of people, because they have not, by the Ryan principle, they have not entered the process.

BAIER: By the way, he is the also the chair of the convention, so he has some say.

WILL: And he may particularly have taken out the man who if he had not run in the first place, John Kasich, would be the white knight waiting in the wings. The reason I say he took him out, when Ryan says it is important to have entered the process, then how the process measures you becomes important. The Cleveland Spiders were a national league baseball team in 1899, and they held the record for futility. In 154 game season, they won
20 and lost 134. They had a better winning percentage than Kasich is going to have at the end of this. So by the Ryan principle, Kasich is moved aside.

BAIER: Can you top the Cleveland Spiders?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Those 20 victories were spectacular.


KRAUTHAMMER: Look, I think Ryan was important here. Yes, he did do the Sherman-esch thing. I think he broadcast what had to be said, and I think he's utterly sincere. But the part of his speech that I found the most interesting was when he talked about what he was going to be doing in Congress. And that was kind of ignored, put together a policy agenda. He announced the personalizing of the presidential campaign.

I think what he was doing in addition to pulling out of the race was to announce the first step of the rebuilding of the party after the rubble of this election cycle. There's likely to be rubble after Cleveland. And assuming there isn't, although I'm sure there will be, there will be even greater run after November.

I'm sure that Ryan sees that it way. The party will be irredeemably split.
And what he was saying is, and of course when you don't have the White House your leadership of the party comes out of the Congress. He says I will lead with a policy agenda to reconstruct the Reaganite ideas that have been leveled in this cycle. I don't think it is with an eye to the presidency. He is young. He can run any time in the next 20 years. It's an eye to holding the party together as in the post-Goldwater era.

BAIER: Because if it is, no matter who the nominee is, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, whomever, they're going to have a tough time putting this party together.

WALTER: Yes. I don't see how they unify after what's going in Cleveland.
I was in Ohio recently and I had a Republican say to me, look, there's going to be a riot if he gets the nomination. There is going to be a riot if Trump doesn't get the nomination. This thing is now split. And bringing this party together is going to be be very, very tough to do.

BAIER: On the other side, the other party, one of the candidates has been running for a year now.


HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Everyday Americans need a champion and I want to be a champion. I'm running for president.

I am confident that I never sent nor received any information that was classified.

ED HENRY, FOX NEWS: Did you wipe the server?

CLINTON: Like with a cloth or something?

Nobody talks to me about it other than you guys.

Let me answer one of your questions because I think that's what you are entitled to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the difference between a socialist and a Democrat?

CLINTON: I can tell you what I am. I am a progressive Democrat.

I am so thrilled that I'm coming to New Hampshire after winning Iowa.

I don't know what we would have done tonight if we had actually won.

I have said it wasn't the best choice to use a personal e-mail.

It's a security review.


BAIER: OK, George, one year Hillary Clinton launched, one year ago today.

WILL: We went directly from talk about how are the Republicans ever going to be unified to that. And that's how they're going to be unified. She is a great bringer-together of Republicans.

It's an old saying -- overnight is a long time in American politics and a week is forever. And by the time the convention is done and dust has settled, and we've gotten used to the fact that there is a precedent, lots for precedents, actually, for conventions being deliberative bodies as opposed to just ratifying bodies, there she is going to be unifying the Republicans.

BAIER: You do concede if Donald Trump gets 1,237, he is the nominee.

WILL: Absolutely.

BAIER: Yes, absolutely. Charles, Hillary Clinton, one year.

KRAUTHAMMER: If he gets it, he should be the nominee.

BAIER: Of course.

KRAUTHAMMER: One year she is the luckiest woman on earth. She is a very weak candidate. I said so at the beginning. I was wrong about how weak Trump would be. I was right about her. But she is the luckiest because in a completely losable year where she really should lose -- if she can't beat Sanders she should lose -- she has run into a GOP committing suicide, and I think her chances are extremely strong as a result.

BAIER: Quickly, Amy, Trump has helped her in the rhetorical game?

WALTER: He has also help her unify her party. If Hillary Clinton has one big problem with her own party it's getting that Obama coalition motivated to turn out to vote. She might not be able to do that herself, but Donald Trump or Ted Cruz sure helps to do that.

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