WASHINGTON ― After Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told House Republicans on Monday morning that he wouldn’t campaign for Donald Trump anymore, Trump needled the speaker using his favorite device: Twitter.
Ryan said he wasn’t withdrawing his endorsement ― just that he wouldn’t defend Trump or spend time campaigning for him. But those distinctions seemed a bit lost on the Republican nominee, who characterized Ryan’s new position as fighting against him.
Although Ryan suggested during the conference call that he would unendorse Trump if he were acting on his own and not as the highest-ranking elected Republican, his position is functionally unchanged. Ryan hasn’t attended a campaign event with Trump yet, and he also hasn’t actively been defending him. In fact, Ryan has made a number of his disagreements with Trump well-known.
A Trump spokeswoman wrote on Twitter that people within the party had indicated this perceived disloyalty would hurt the GOP in down-ballot races.
There have been plenty of signs of the growing rift between Republican leadership and Trump for a while, but that evidence began mounting over the weekend as Republicans fled from their presidential nominee. Leaders told members to do what’s best for them and their race.
That prompted Trump on Sunday to tweet about his frustration.
Trump had been scheduled to appear at a Fall Fest even in Wisconsin on Saturday, but that changed after a recording surfaced in which he bragged about groping and kissing women without their consent. Ryan attended the event, however. Hecklers shouted at the speaker and booed at times, which prompted Trump to thank his supporters.
Great stuff, as always, from Republican Team Player Donald Trump.