LOS ANGELES — Since the chaotic end of Donald Trump’s presidency, the debate about the future of the Republican Party frequently comes down to a simple marker: Do you support Trump and his America First agenda, or not?
Former US House Speaker Paul Ryan thinks his divided party — and history — will move on.
The either-or debate over fealty to Trump “is going to fade,” the 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I think circumstances, ideas and new candidates are going to ... overshadow that whole conversation.”
The reckoning over what it means to be a Republican and how the party can rebuild is the inevitable result of 2020 loses that left the White House and Congress in Democratic control.
Assessing the way forward is “a normal growing pain for a party coming off of a presidential loss,” Ryan said. “I think it’s wrong to suggest that this party is bifurcated around one person.”
His views on the GOP will be showcased next month as part of a speaker series at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, which is reopening its doors after more than a year-long pandemic closure.
Those behind the lectern will include a roster of potential 2024 presidential candidates, including former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Secretary Mike Pompeo and former UN Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, among others.
“We thought the timing was right” for discussing the GOP identity and the party’s principles, said Roger Zakheim, Washington director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute.
“We find ourselves in a moment where the Republican Party is not in power,” Zakheim added. “Where is the Republican Party succeeding, where is it failing? What are the philosophies we can all agree on?”
The foundation said in a statement that the forum will provide a platform for “the purpose of reinventing the Republican Party as a true and modern conservative party with ideas deserving of the support of the American people.”
The stage for the event will carry symbolic heft: The former Republican president and his wife Nancy Reagan are buried at the hilltop library in Simi Valley, which celebrates his conservative legacy and all things Reagan.