ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
It took a while, but House Speaker Paul Ryan has now endorsed Donald Trump for president. The leader of the Republican-controlled House has struggled to get there since Trump cleared the path to the nomination.
In a column published today in his hometown paper, the Janesville Gazette, Ryan says he will vote for Donald Trump this November. NPR congressional reporter Susan Davis joins us now. Hi, Sue.
SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Hey, Ari.
SHAPIRO: So why now?
DAVIS: Well, it - politically, it did not hurt that the endorsement came right in the middle of a Hillary Clinton speech attacking Donald Trump over national security. While that was good timing, it also helps House Republicans get in front of next week what Paul Ryan is kicking off, a three-week agenda project, that House Republicans are going to outline the things they will do if a Republican president wins in November.
And it is his way of asserting House Republicans' role in deciding what the Republican Party is going to be about this fall. It's going to give his lawmakers something to run on. And it does what he said he would do it - when he became speaker is he wants the Republican Party to become a proposition party that tells voters what they're going to do and not just a party that tells voters what they oppose.
SHAPIRO: Now, as we said, Paul Ryan was not early out of the gate in endorsing Trump. Did he say what persuaded him?
DAVIS: You know, the two men had a very hyped meeting in D.C. last month, where they met privately at the RNC. Both have said that their aides have been in private conversations in recent weeks talking about what common ground they could find.
In his op-ed, Ryan said that they've talked - in his words - at great length about ideas. And he specifically said that the things that they could agree on - there was two things in particular he called out - was that they both oppose abortion rights and that Trump putting out his list of conservatives that he would put on the court was an encouraging sign for him. And in it he said he has confidence in Trump and that he will vote for him this November.
SHAPIRO: But still some disagreements between the two of them?
DAVIS: You know, as Ryan often says they represent the two wings of the Republican Party, and on nearly every major issue, particularly on economic issues, they have significant disagreements. They disagree over whether or not to raise the minimum wage. They disagree over whether or not wealthy Americans should pay more in taxes. And they certainly disagree over what to do over entitlements.
The question now is when House Republicans roll out this agenda, how much of this is Donald Trump going to embrace and campaign on? As he has indicated throughout this campaign, he does not necessarily feel like he's the one that needs to change.
SHAPIRO: And what about the possible impact on House races? Do you expect House members to campaign with or independent of Trump? How is this going to work?
DAVIS: You know, now that every major congressional leader has endorsed Trump, it's going to be very hard to make the case that there's any daylight between the top of the ticket and the bottom of the ticket. So the Republican Party is firmly lined up behind Trump.
What we know from the numbers is right now there's just not that many competitive races in play in the House. Republicans are favored to hold onto that majority. Nonpartisan election forecasters say the Democrats are likely to pick up seats, but the kind of wave they need for a takeover still seems out of sight.
SHAPIRO: NPR congressional reporter Sue Davis. Thanks, Sue.
DAVIS: Thanks, Ari. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.