Paul Ryan Shifts Focus to Congress, Won’t Defend Donald Trump Anymore
Without explicitly withdrawing his support for his party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, Paul Ryan instructed House members on Monday to shift their focus to their own races. “You all need to do what’s best for you in your district,” Ryan said in a conference call with House lawmakers, according to an anonymous member on the call.
In light of a video from 2005 that emerged last week in which Trump made crass remarks regarding women, the Speaker of the House also said he will not defend Trump moving forward, nor will he campaign with him, according to lawmakers and congressional staff.
According to the anonymous source who participated in the call, Ryan said he was “willing to endure political pressure to help protect our majority.” He expressed, with urgency, the need to prevent Hillary Clinton from governing with a Democrat-controlled Congress. With many Senate and House seats up for grabs in November, Ryan wishes for his party to focus on maintaining their majority in the Senate, a rockier prospect than holding on to the House, where the GOP holds a 246 to 186 advantage.
Before Sunday night’s debate, and following the release of the damaging 2005 video, Republican politicians reneged on their support of Trump, the most notable of which was Senator John McCain (R-AZ). Rumors began to spread that Trump’s running mate, Governor Mike Pence (R-IN), would drop himself from the ticket. Pence clarified his position on Monday: “This is a choice between two futures,” he said in an interview on CNN. “I’m honored to be standing with him.”
After the House conference call on Monday, Ryan’s support is murkier. His office did deny that he is ceding the race to Clinton, however. Pro-Trump House members felt Ryan was doing just that; some called Ryan and other conservatives who have disavowed Trump “cowards.”
Ryan, it seems, is aiming for the best of both worlds: distancing himself and his party from the tarnish of Trump, while not abandoning him entirely, perhaps in the hopes his supporters will remain loyal to the party. How that strategy will turn out remains to be seen. It could be a cold winter for Paul Ryan.
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