Paul Ryan Won't Defend Trump. But He Also Won't Unendorse Him.


WASHINGTON ― House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is done defending Donald Trump, but he won’t unendorse him ― at least, not yet.

Ryan told members of Congress on a conference call Monday that they “all need to do what’s best for you in your district,” according to someone on the call. Ryan said he wouldn’t campaign with Trump for the rest of the election, but added that he wouldn’t withdraw his endorsement of the GOP nominee.

“He made clear to members that his decisions are being driven by what is best for his members, not himself,” the source on the call said. “He is willing to endure political pressure to help protect our majority.”

Ryan seems to be suggesting that he would unendorse Trump if he were on his own. But he’s also signaling that he sees a negative down-ballot impact for Republicans if he were to pull his support.

The conference call was held after a leaked video revealed that Trump had, in 2005, bragged about groping and kissing women without their consent. Amid a steady stream of Republicans unendorsing Trump, many party members are questioning whether they, too, should withdraw their support from the nominee and risk angering Trump’s base and depressing GOP turnout even more. Not unendorsing means forever associating yourself with Trump and telling voters that Trump’s behavior is still acceptable.

On top of that, members individually unendorsing Trump could cause an even longer list of Republicans to pull their support, which could make it even more difficult for the members who stand by Trump.

Still, leadership seems to understand the drag that Trump is in some districts, and the strategy is a recognition that this will be a tough election year for House Republicans.

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly
political violence
and is a
style="font-weight: 400;">serial liar
style="font-weight: 400;">rampant xenophobe
style="font-weight: 400;">misogynist
who has
repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from
entering the U.S.

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