The Paul Ryan vs. Donald Trump Battle for the Soul of the Republican Party, Explained

House Speaker Paul Ryan says not so fast, Donald Trump. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

It's not quite a civil war, but there's a major battle happening in the Republican party. It's a clash between two of the most powerful Republicans: Donald Trump, the party's almost-official presidential nominee, and Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, the highest-ranking elected Republican.

Here's the deal and why it matters.

What's up?

After Trump won the Indiana primary on May 3rd, the two other remaining Republican presidential candidates, Senator Ted Cruz and Governor John Kasich, dropped out.

The mic was dropped when the Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus declared Donald Trump the "presumptive nominee" and called for party unity. Well, well.

Some Republicans and conservatives lined up to support Trump.

But all hell broke loose when some prominent Republicans started leaving the party, and others declared they were #NeverTrump (and some even said #ImWithHer, meaning they are going to vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton).

THEN a big bombshell was dropped by House Speaker Paul Ryan.

What did Ryan say?

Paul Ryan told CNN that he wasn't "ready" to back Donald Trump:

"Well, to be perfectly candid with you, I'm just not ready to do that at this point. I'm not there right now. And I hope to, though, and I want to."

He went on about why he isn't necessarily ready to stand with Trump:

"I think conservatives want to know, 'Does he share our values and our principles on limited government, the proper role of the executive, adherence to the Constitution?' There are lots of questions that conservatives, I think, are gonna want answers to, myself included. I want to be a part of this unifying process. I want to help to unify this party."

Watch the clip yourself:

What did Trump say?

Of course, Donald Trump had to respond to Ryan's statement:

"I am not ready to support Speaker Ryan's agenda. Perhaps in the future, we can work together and come to an agreement about what is best for the American people. They have been treated so badly for so long that it is about time for politicians to put them first!"

He went OFF on Twitter:

What do Trump and Ryan agree on?

Besides the fact that both call themselves Republicans? That's a tough one. Some think they can find things to agree on.

But what they disagree on is a LOT.

What do they disagree on?

They disagree on policy, approach, tone, conservatism, and overall vision. Ryan and Republicans like him are having a hard time embracing Trump because he doesn't champion smaller government, who takes a dictatorial approach to leadership, and because he has in the past supported things like universal health care and a woman's right to choose.

Meanwhile, Trump and his team say he won the Republican presidential nomination with millions of votes, so voters clearly back his agenda, so suck it, Paul Ryan. Here's his spokesperson, Katrina Pierson, saying just that:

But Ryan--like many other Republicans--is uncomfortable with Trump's statements on women, Hispanics, and Muslims. He doesn't believe these stances reflect the party's core beliefs and values.

They also have differences on economics, tax reform, and trade.

And he's questioned Trump's conservatism. Ryan knows he's going to have differences on policy with other politicians, but he isn't exactly sure on Trump being a real Republican.

All of this is sparking deep, soul-searching conversations about what in the world *is* the "conservative agenda?" What does Republican mean? What is a conservative? And lastly, what does Trump truly stand for, if anything, aside from himself?

Ryan does have some power and support as House Speaker. He is the chair of the Republican National Convention, where Trump is supposed to be formally nominated in July.

Some say Trump should be careful when it comes to Ryan.

What are other Republicans saying about it?

It's dividing the party hard and fast.

Some put party first.

These are the die-hard Republicans who will stand with the party, whoever is the nominee.

That includes RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and Fox News commentator Sean Hannity.

There is a growing roar of conservatives saying that if Ryan can't back Trump--the party's new "standard bearer"--he shouldn't be House Speaker.

Some put principles first.

These people are Republicans who say they're #NeverHillary but are not "ready" to back Trump either because they don't see their conservative principles reflected in his statements and proposals.

Some put country first.

#RepublicansforHillary started almost immediately after Priebus said Trump was the "presumptive nominee."

Others have left the party--or are considering it.

Some are going unaffiliated or independent, others libertarian.

Like longtime Republican strategist Mary Matalin, who switched her party affiliation to the Libertarian Party. She still says she'd vote for Trump over Clinton.

Many Republicans are tweeting out their political frustrations.

And many put Trump first.

Call them the Retrumplicans.

Why does this matter?

Clearly, the Republican party is fracturing because of Trump. He's not a traditional conservative. Many of his ideas are at odds with the majority of the party. He's also anti-establishment--part of why he's doing so well is that he channels frustrations so many right-leaning Americans have with the dysfunctional political process and leadership.

Now that he's the de facto Republican nominee, the tensions that were simmering are now fully boiling.

Trump's chances of winning could be compromised if his party isn't unified before the general election. He needs every vote he can get. And it may make the Republican convention in July all the more chaotic.

RNC Chairman Priebus is trying to pull it together. Ryan and Trump will be meeting sometime next week.

Wouldn't all of us like to be a fly on the wall listening in on that meeting?

This article was written by Patrick deHahn and originally appeared on Kicker. Kicker explains the most important, compelling things going on in the world and empowers you to get in the know, make up your own mind, and take action. For more, check out the Kicker site, like their Facebook page, or subscribe to their email newsletter.