Giv­ing up on Trump? Ryan fo­cus­ing on sav­ing GOP ma­jor­ity

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LOCAL NEWS -

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 busi­ness­man in the elec­tion’s clos­ing weeks. Pro-Trump mem­bers 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 Demo­cratic-con­trolled 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 Trump.

“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 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.

Run­ning mate Mike Pence said he was staying with Trump. “I’m hon­ored to be stand­ing with him,” Pence 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 seat ma­jor­ity, Ryan and Greg Walden, the 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.

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