Ryan says he’s done help­ing Trump

Speaker all but con­cedes his party’s nom­i­nee can’t win pres­i­den­tial election

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE -

WASH­ING­TON >> House Speaker Paul Ryan, the na­tion’s top elected Repub­li­can, ef­fec­tively aban­doned Don­ald Trump Mon­day, telling anx­ious fel­low law­mak­ers he will not cam­paign for or de­fend the floun­der­ing GOP pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee in the cam­paign’s clos­ing weeks.

Pro-Trump mem­bers of the party re­belled in anger, ac­cus­ing Ryan of con­ced­ing the election to Hil­lary Clinton.

In­deed, Ryan said he would de­vote his en­ergy to en­sur­ing Clinton doesn’t get a “blank check” as pres­i­dent with a Demo­crat­ic­con­trolled Congress, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple on his pri­vate con­fer­ence call with GOP House mem­bers. While the Wis­con­sin Repub­li­can did not for­mally re­scind his own tepid en­dorse­ment of Trump, he told law­mak­ers they were free to do just that and fight for their own re-election.

Trump fired back on Twitter, say­ing Ryan “should spend more time on bal­anc­ing the bud­get, jobs and il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion and not waste his time on fight­ing Repub­li­can nom­i­nee.”

Trump re­tained the back­ing of the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee, which has over­seen cru­cial

field ef­forts for the can­di­date in bat­tle­ground states. On a con­fer­ence call with RNC mem­bers, Chair­man Reince Priebus said the party re­mains in full co­or­di­na­tion with its nom­i­nee.

“Ev­ery­thing is on course,” Priebus said, ac­cord­ing to a par­tic­i­pant in the call.

Still, Ryan’s an­nounce­ment un­der­scored the per­ilous predica­ment Repub­li­cans find them­selves in just one month from Election Day. Re­cent rev­e­la­tions of Trump’s preda­tory sex­ual com­ments about women deep­ened the wor­ries among GOP of­fi­cials who fear he’ll drag down their own elec­toral prospects in Novem­ber. But oth­ers look at Trump’s loyal bands of sup­port­ers and see no way for Repub­li­cans in other races to win with­out their sup­port.

Trump him­self made no ref­er­ence to Ryan and the GOP de­fec­tions at a Pennsylvania rally, ex­cept per­haps one line that could ap­ply to flee­ing Repub­li­cans as well as the Democrats.

“The last 72 hours has framed what this election is all about. It’s about the Amer­i­can peo­ple fight­ing back against cor­rupt politi­cians who don’t care about any­thing ex­cept for stay­ing in power,” he said.

Trump’s can­di­dacy long ago laid bare the tur­moil roil­ing the GOP. Some party lead­ers had hoped to push off a reck­on­ing un­til af­ter the election, but with Ryan and other law­mak­ers pub­licly dis­tanc­ing them­selves from Trump — and in some cases even call­ing for the real es­tate mogul to drop out of the race — that now ap­pears im­pos­si­ble.

For Ryan, the most press­ing goal through the next four weeks is pre­vent­ing Repub­li­cans from los­ing con­trol of the House, a sce­nario that seemed re­mote as re­cently as a week ago. Al­though Repub­li­cans are not yet pan­ick­ing given their wide 246-186 ma­jor­ity, Ryan and Greg Walden, chair­man of the Na­tional Repub­li­can Con­gres­sional Com­mit­tee, both ac­knowl­edged on Mon­day’s con­fer­ence

call that the ma­jor­ity was more in peril in light of Trump’s prob­lems.

Walden told law­mak­ers they still could win their seats but that it would re­quire del­i­cate ma­neu­ver­ing akin to land­ing an air­plane in a hurricane in a fog, sev­eral par­tic­i­pants said.

On the other side of the Capi­tol, there were signs that more Repub­li­can Se­nate can­di­dates were mov­ing to dis­tance them­selves from Trump. Two Repub­li­cans said they ex­pected to see ads urg­ing vot­ers to back GOP Se­nate can­di­dates as a check on Clinton’s power in the White House, with one of the Repub­li­cans say­ing the spots could come as soon as this week.

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, who’s not up for re-election this year, re­fused to even ac­knowl­edge Trump Mon­day, telling a group of busi­ness lead­ers in his home state of Ken­tucky that if they ex­pected to hear him dis­cuss the pres­i­den­tial race, they “might as well go ahead and leave.”

Trump sup­port­ers are fu­ri­ous at the no­tion that Repub­li­can lead­ers are aban­don­ing the nom­i­nee se­lected by their party. In the con­fer­ence call with Ryan, California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher called GOP lead­ers “cow­ards,” ac­cord­ing to one par­tic­i­pant, who, like oth­ers, in­sisted on anonymity.

Trump had hoped to stop the ex­o­dus of Repub­li­cans run­ning away from his cam­paign with a solid per­for­mance in Sun­day’s pres­i­den­tial de­bate. He did en­er­gize his core sup­port­ers by hurl­ing in­sults at Clinton — he called her the “devil” and promised to put her in jail if he’s pres­i­dent — but he ap­peared to do lit­tle to win over new vot­ers.

He also in­sisted his ag­gres­sively vul­gar re­marks in a 2005 record­ing that was made pub­lic Fri­day were mere “locker room” talk and tried to turn the at­ten­tion to al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct by for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clinton.

The 2005 re­marks in­cluded Trump brag­ging about how his fame al­lowed him to “do any­thing” to women, in­clud­ing grab their gen­i­tal ar­eas, with­out their con­sent.

AP FILE

House Speaker Paul Ryan

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