Speaker Paul Ryan has announced that he will no longer defend or campaign with his party’s nominee. In a conference call, he told congressional Republicans that he would focus on protecting the party’s majority in the House.
The change in strategy is likely a result of the leaked audio that shows Donald Trump bragging about sexual assault, which led many prominent Republicans to rescind their endorsement of the party’s nominee. Ryan did not go so far as to rescind his endorsement, but, on Saturday, he did cancel his planned appearance at a Trump campaign event.
Ryan told Republicans that they needed to do what was best for their own district. For his part, he said he would no longer be defending or campaigning for Trump. The move likely came as a shock to some within the party, but Ryan and Trump have never seen eye to eye. The GOP nominee took an unusually long time to endorse Ryan’s bid for re-election. Despite Ryan’s lack of support, he has not, as of this article’s writing, rescinded his endorsement of Trump.
According to sources, Ryan has apparently written the White House off and will instead work to ensure that Hillary Clinton does not get a Democratic majority in congress. His current schedule includes stops in 17 states where he will campaign for the House and Senate.
Ryan has said that he feels he is doing what is best for the party as a whole despite the fact that his decision to abandon Trump might be politically costly. Spokeswoman AshLee Strong said:
‘The speaker is going to spend the next month focused entirely on protecting our congressional majorities.’
In response to Ryan’s announcement, Trump took to Twitter to attack the Speaker saying that Ryan had more important issues to focus on than attacking his party’s nominee.
‘Paul Ryan should spend more time on balancing the budget, jobs and illegal immigration and not waste his time on fighting Republican nominee’
Paul Ryan should spend more time on balancing the budget, jobs and illegal immigration and not waste his time on fighting Republican nominee
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 10, 2016
Sources within the conference call indicate that, despite Ryan’s words, not all Republican lawmakers are ready to abandon Trump. Many within safe congressional districts are committed to supporting their party’s nominee.
Featured image via Getty Images.