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Paul Ryan's impossible position

Paul Ryan has put himself in an impossible position.

After withholding his support for Donald Trump for weeks, the speaker of the House endorsed him at the exact moment many others were stepping away.

Ryan endorsed Trump in his hometown newspaper just days before unveiling his own vision of what the Republican Party platform could look like in an effort to bring the presumptive nominee on board and in line with congressional republicans who will all be running their own races.

Ryan moved forward down this dual path even with no evidence that Donald Trump would get behind the policies Ryan is proposing as he prepares his general election campaign. In several instances, Trump has taken positions that are in direct opposition to what Ryan has laid out but Trump has signaled a willingness to deal with the Speaker.

Now, in the wake of the country's worst mass shooting in history at a nightclub in Orlando over the weekend, Trump and Ryan are again at odds as Trump double downed on his call for a ban on all Muslims entering the United States.

The Muslim ban was one of Trump's most inflammatory and criticized proposals during the primaries and one that members of the GOP - including Ryan - had hoped Trump would publicly back away from.

Ryan, in an interview with Face the Nation that was conducted before the attack in Orlando, made clear he was opposed to any ban on Muslims that Trump had previously proposed.

"I've been pretty clear about that, I obviously don't support the Muslim ban, I do not think we should have a religious test on people who come into this country" Ryan said.

In a statement about the terrorist attack, Ryan made no reference to the ban proposal, instead expressing his condolences for the victims and that, "as we heal, we need to be clear-eyed about who did this, we are a nation at war with Islamist terrorists."

This separation between the two current leaders of the Republican party will prompt even more questions about Ryan's support for Trump and his insistence that he will unify the party heading into November.

Paul Ryan on why GOP has an "obligation" to call out Donald Trump

Entitlement reform is another major sticking point between the two men.

"As Republicans, if you think you are going to change very substantially for the worse Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security in any substantial way, and at the same time you think you are going to win elections, it just really is not going to happen," Trump said at CPAC in 2013. In recent months, he has said that Social Security can be saved by targeting waste, fraud and abuse.

Ryan, on the other hand, has long been one of Congress' most ardent advocates for entitlement reform that would require spending cuts.

"He [Ryan] is a very good guy. I think Paul and I will deal on certain issues," Trump recently said in an interview with Bloomberg Politics, adding that he didn't believe he "out-negotiated" Ryan in order to get his endorsement.

It is a unique position Ryan finds himself in after accepting the speakership. Traditionally the job of bridge-building and coalescing has been reserved for the presumptive nominee and his campaign -- but that task now rests with Ryan, who admitted as much in an interview with John Dickerson on Tuesday.

"I believe in this job I have as Speaker of the House that it is important that I help unify our party so that we're at full strength in the fall so that we can win an election," Ryan said.

Unifying the GOP seems even more difficult now after a week of intense intra-party blowback against Trump and his comments about a Latino federal judge.

One Republican Senator rescinded his endorsement and the rest of the party leadership condemned the remarks, including Mitt Romney, who told CNN in a scathing interview that he couldn't support Trump.

"I don't want to see a president of the United States saying things which change the character of the generations of Americans that are following. Presidents have an impact on the nature of our nation, and trickle-down racism, trickle-down bigotry, trickle-down misogyny, all these things are extraordinarily dangerous to the heart and character of America," Romney said.

Ryan, who was also Romney's running mate in 2012, called Trump's comments on Curiel "the textbook definition of racism."

Ryan explained that he feels an obligation to call out Trump - or anyone in the party - when they "say things that run contrary to our beliefs" as Ryan did repeatedly in interviews this week while also reaffirming to his GOP colleagues in a closed door meeting that he plans to still support Trump over Hillary Clinton.

"We have an obligation to not support those things because they don't define who we are. But what we hopefully can achieve is offering the country a clear agenda going forward," Ryan told Dickerson.

That "clear agenda" is Ryan's "Better Way" initiative, an attempt to define the policy landscape on which congressional Republicans will campaign on this fall. Ryan's plan has six components that his office began to unveil last week, centered around poverty, national security, innovation and investment, health care and tax reform.

This focus on policy started when Ryan took over in November. Work on "Better Way" began in earnest in January, according to a spokesperson for Ryan, while the GOP still had over ten candidates vying for the nomination.

Now with Trump as the presumptive nominee and Ryan outlining specifics in his agenda the spotlight on Trump's lack of policy specifics in key areas has gotten brighter and caused more friction during this transition from the primaries to the general.

With just over a month before the conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia, both parties will now be bringing their respective agendas into greater focus.

In recent elections the party platform has been at best ceremonial as Democrats and Republicans lay out their positions at their respective conventions without any binding consequence. For example, the 2012 GOP platform included language encouraging Puerto Rican statehood, vague references to implementing the gold standard and opposing "the creation of any new race-based governments within the United States".

This year the significance of each party's platform will undoubtedly increase with Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump having challenged the traditional establishment orthodoxy during each party's primaries.

Paul Ryan: Trump's remarks "indefensible"

Sanders, who will meet with Clinton on Tuesday, will undoubtedly influence what is in the Democratic Party platform. The difference for Democrats is that Hillary Clinton is and Sanders are much closer on the issues.

For Republicans, and specifically Paul Ryan, marrying the party platform with the positions and ideas that have been outlined by Donald Trump throughout this election present a greater challenge - one that some have expressed extreme skepticism can be overcome.

Rick Wilson, a GOP strategist and outspoken critic of Donald Trump, sympathized with Ryan's precarious position but warned that the Republican majorities in the House and Senate could be in trouble if Trump continues to lead the party.

"What's regrettable is that Speaker Ryan has a positive, prospective conservative agenda that would make this country more prosperous, more cohesive and show the American people what conservative leadership looks like" Wilson explained, "but instead he's stuck defending the racism and insanity of Donald Trump. For the sake of the party, and the conservative movement, I hope the Speaker will tear off the Band-Aid and get back to leading the party so we can save our Congressional majorities this fall."

Wilson acknowledged Ryan for "giving GOP candidates some principled and smart policy to run on" but added, "Trump erases all policy".

This piece has been updated.