House Speaker Paul Ryan recently decided to stop defending GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and focus solely on saving congressional majorities. Next week he’ll be heading to California to raise money and campaign for House candidates.
Ryan is in a difficult spot. He is palpably uncomfortable with Trump, but if the GOP nominee loses by a landslide, that threatens Republican members of the House and potentially leaves Ryan with a smaller, more conservative and more restive caucus. Shortly after the election, the House GOP will hold a secret ballot vote on electing Ryan to a second term as their leader.
The Wisconsin representative arrives in California next Thursday and will hold 12 events in seven cities over two days. Ryan is expected to campaign with Reps. Jeff Denham, David Valadao and Steve Knight, as well as Scott Jones, who is challenging Rep. Ami Bera. He will also hold events benefiting Team Ryan, a joint fundraising committee.
Ryan was already a prodigious fundraiser, raising nearly $50 million this year and transferring more than half to help congressional candidates. But he is barnstorming the nation in the lead-up to the November election. This month alone, Ryan has held more than 65 events in 17 states.
Ryan has endorsed Trump, but has long been uncomfortable with Trump’s rhetoric. The breaking point was the emergence earlier this month of a 2005 recording of Trump making vulgar comments about how he could grope women without their consent, which led Ryan to disinvite him from a Wisconsin GOP event, and then to tell his conference he would no longer defend his party’s standard-bearer.
Since then, Ryan has been publicly silent about Trump, instead saving his public remarks for blasting Hillary Clinton and “liberal progressivism,” and for helping his Republican colleagues.
Trump has recently attacked Ryan for not standing by his side, suggesting that the party’s 2012 vice presidential nominee does not want Trump to win because he has his eye on the White House in 2020.
“I don’t want to be knocking Paul Ryan,” Trump said Tuesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” But “I think he could be more supportive to the Republican nominee.”
“Maybe he wants to run in four years and maybe he doesn’t know how to win,” said Trump, who has previously criticized Ryan as a “very weak and ineffective leader.”