MSNBC's Joe Scarborough suggested House Speaker Paul Ryan might secretly hope he loses his re-election campaign before President Donald Trump destroys his reputation any further.
The House Speaker declined to take part in this weekend's "Town Hall of Our Lives" in his congressional district, although his challenger Randy Bryce was there, and the "Morning Joe" host said anecdotal reports from the event showed Ryan may be in trouble.
"You never really know," Scarborough said. "In '94, big Republican sweep, the speaker of the House then got swept out of power surprisingly enough, a lot of senior Democrats got swept out of power."
MSNBC analyst Mike Barnicle agreed reports from the event hinted at trouble for Ryan, and he wondered whether the House Speaker may decide not to file for re-election by the June 1 deadline -- which he so far has not.
"It's only anecdotal reporting we saw, it was good reporting, but the voices articulated at the town hall meeting that the speaker did not go to, that's kind of a warning," Barnicle said. "That's his hometown, and it's a coalition of youngsters who put that together. You would think that he would, which lends credence to the rumors as you just pointed out that he may -- he may fold it up."
Scarborough wondered why Ryan would even want to stay in Congress.
"Why would he want to stay in and keep fighting?" Scarborough said. "He really had to be pulled into the speaker's job, wanted to spend more time with his kids, been there such a long time. I've got to say who in the hell would want to stick around another two years with Donald Trump as president of the United States knowing that any policy position you took would be followed up with a question of, what did Donald Trump tweet about today? What -- you know, what woman did Donald Trump insult today? What racist statement did Donald Trump make today? Who would want to be in that position?"
Many GOP lawmakers have decided not to run for re-election ahead of what polls suggest could be a Democratic wave, and the panelists agreed no politician's reputation had been more damaged in the Trump era than Ryan's.
"If you're Paul Ryan, why stick around for two more years and double the impact?" Scarborough wondered. "Leave now, loves his family, spend time with your family and don't let Donald Trump tear down the rest of your reputation over the next couple of years."
New York Times reporter Nick Confessore said the House of Representatives would spiral out of control if Ryan left, but he said the 48-year-old speaker could have his pick of corporate jobs after passing a tax cut bill.
"This guy passed the biggest tax cut for corporations in years," Confessore said. "He's going toe have his pick of corporate board jobs and making a lot of money in the private sector if he wants to."
Co-host Mika Brzezinski said Ryan could also stay and challenge Trump for the soul of their party.
"Yeah, he could stay and actually speak the truth to power and that would be helpful," she said.