The Republican Party tumbled toward anarchy Monday over its presidential nominee, as House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) cut Donald Trump loose in an emergency maneuver to preserve the party’s endangered congressional majorities.
Ryan’s announcement that he would no longer defend or campaign with Trump prompted biting condemnations from within his caucus and from Trump himself, who publicly lashed out at the speaker.
It was an extraordinary display of personal animus just four weeks before the election, destroying any semblance of party unity behind a nominee who many GOP leaders said they could no longer stomach because of his character traits and tawdry campaign tactics.
- Paul Ryan Turns Focus From Donald Trump to House Races, Roiling G.O.P.
The House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, dealt a hammer blow to Donald J. Trump’s presidential candidacy on Monday, dashing any remaining semblance of Republican unity and inviting fierce backlash from his own caucus by announcing that he would no longer defend Mr. Trump.
Mr. Ryan’s stance drew an immediate rebuke from Mr. Trump, who posted on Twitter that Mr. Ryan should focus on governing “and not waste his time on fighting Republican nominee.”
Mr. Ryan informed Republican lawmakers on a morning conference call that he would never again campaign for Mr. Trump and would dedicate himself instead to defending the party’s majority in Congress, according to five lawmakers who participated in the call and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Effectively conceding defeat for his party in the presidential race, Mr. Ryan said his most urgent task was ensuring that Hillary Clinton did not take the helm with Democratic control of the House and Senate, two lawmakers said.
- Paul Ryan Needs Trump More Than Trump Needs Ryan.
House Speaker Paul Ryan is not a big fan of Donald Trump — that much is clear. He refused to back Trump during the Republican primaries and thenheld out on endorsing him even after Trump became the presumptive nominee. But eventually, Ryan did get behind Trump. And now, even after video of Trump bragging about being able to commit sexual assault has come to light, Ryan said he won’t defend Trump, but he has refused to unendorse the GOP nominee. Trump responded by attacking Ryan on Twitter.
A reasonable person might ask why, if Ryan was reluctant to support Trump to begin with, the speaker of the House isn’t washing his hands of the whole Trump campaign.
But the answer is simple: Republican voters like Trump; Ryan risks losing the support of rank-and-file GOPers if he hits Trump too hard.