Paul Ryan Says He Won't Defend Trump, Campaign With Him; Trump Defiant | NBC 7 San Diego
Decision 2016

Decision 2016

Full coverage of the race for the White House

Paul Ryan Says He Won't Defend Trump, Campaign With Him; Trump Defiant

But Trump retained the backing of the Republican National Committee



    Getty Images
    House Majority Leader Paul Ryan, left, and Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump, right.

    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.

    Warren to Trump 'Nasty Women' Vote

    [NATL] Warren to Trump 'Nasty Women' Vote
    Hillary Clinton is joined by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren on the campaign trail in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Oct. 24, 2016. (Published Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016)

    "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.

    Clinton's campaign hammered Republicans for recoiling from Trump at this late date and urged voters to hold GOP candidates accountable for standing by their nominee for months. The campaign had earlier tweeted that "Ryan is still endorsing Trump."

    'Late Night’: Trump’s Closing Arguments

    [NATL] 'Late Night’: A Closer Look at Donald Trump’s Closing Arguments
    With the election nearing, host Seth Meyers looks at how Donald Trump’s campaign is wrapping up the election cycle. (Published Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016)

    The remarkable development came as Trump battled to rescue his campaign after the release last week of a 2005 video in which he is heard bragging about how his fame allowed him to "do anything" to women. Several leading Republicans have withdrawn their support or even called for him to drop out of the race. 

    Several people on the call said Ryan explicitly told House members, "You all need to do what's best for you in your district." 

    Ryan said he was "willing to endure political pressure to help protect our majority," a person on the call said. 

    In the eyes of many Republican leaders, the recently released tape of a 2005 conversation in which Trump made vulgar, predatory comments about women not only jeopardized his own uphill candidacy but that of Republicans fighting to hold their majority in the Senate. Their commanding majority in the House could now be in peril, too. 

    Trump, Clinton Trade Insults at Dinner

    [NATL-NY] Trump, Clinton Trade Insults at Dinner
    Bitter presidential rivals Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump had one more face-to-face showdown before Election Day. They tried to make it funny but plenty of the jokes bombed, and some even earned scattered boos. Watch each of the candidates' roasts in their entirety here. (Published Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016)

    Some conservatives expressed alarm with Ryan's tone, according to those on the call. 

    California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher called Republican leaders "cowards," one person on the call 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.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to even acknowledge Trump, telling 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 Will Honor Election Results 'If I Win'

    [NATL] Trump Will Honor Presidential Election Results 'If I Win'
    Donald Trump said that he would accept the presidential election results if they were in his favor during a rally in Ohio on Oct. 20, 2016. (Published Monday, Oct. 24, 2016)

    Questioned at Sunday's debate about his vulgar remarks, Trump turned his fire on the Democrats. He accused Bill Clinton of having been "abusive to women" and said Hillary Clinton went after those women "viciously." He declared the Democratic nominee had "tremendous hate in her heart" and should be in jail. 

    "Anything to avoid talking about your campaign and the way it's exploding," Clinton countered. 

    For voters appalled by Trump's words, the businessman's debate performance likely did little to ease their concerns. He denied he had kissed and groped women without their consent, dismissing his claims that he had as "locker room" talk. 

    Clinton on Monday tweeted: "If Trump stands by what he said about women as 'locker room talk,' he's clearly not sorry." 

    Trump: US Election Result Will Be 'Brexit Times Five'

    [NATL-PHI] Trump Rallies Voters in Bucks County
    Pennsylvania suburbs have become pivotal to both presidential candidates to win the election. NBC10's Aundrea Cline-Thomas has more from Donald Trump's rally in Bucks County. (Published Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016)

    "Just like Michelle says, when they go low, we go high," President Barack Obama added on his account. "@HillaryClinton went high and showed why she'll be a POTUS for all Americans."

    Trump's intensely loyal supporters might well be energized by his vigorous criticism of Clinton. He labeled her "the devil" and promised she would "be in jail" if he were president because of her email practices at the State Department — a threat that drew widespread criticism. 

    "That was a quip," Kellyanne Conway, Trump's campaign manager, said Monday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." She also wouldn't confirm what he said at the debate: that as president he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton. Trump was "channeling the frustration" of voters, she said. 

    But Trump doubled down on the prosecuting Clinton at the Pennsylvania rally on Monday afternoon: "I win, we're going to appoint a special prosecutor."

    Fact Check: Trump and Clinton's Debate Claims

    [NATL] Fact Check: Trump and Clinton's Debate Claims
    Donald Trump painted an inaccurately dark portrait of manufacturing in America while Hillary Clinton stretched credulity in boasting that her spending plans won't add to the country's debt. Associated Press writer Chris Rugaber breaks down those claims and more. (Published Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016)

    And he said that if more tapes are released of Trump saying inapporpriate things, "we'll continue to talk about Bill and Hillary Clinton doing inappropriate things."

    Going into Sunday's debate, Trump trailed Clinton by double digits among likely voters, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that showed Clinton with 46 percent support among likely voters in a four-way matchup, compared to 35 percent for Trump.

    The Trump video overshadowed potentially damaging revelations about Clinton's paid speeches to Wall Street firms. Emails released by WikiLeaks last week showed Clinton told a group that it's acceptable for a president to project differing positions in public and private. 

    Asked if that's "two-faced," Clinton pointed to Abraham Lincoln's effort to get the 13th Amendment passed, allowing emancipation of slaves, by lawmakers who did not support African-American equality. 

    Candidates Heatedly Discuss Late-Term Abortions at Debate

    [NATL] Candidates Heatedly Discuss Late-Term Abortions at Debate
    Hillary Clinton said Donald Trump was using “scare rhetoric” during an exchange about "late-term, partial-birth" abortion in Wednesday’s presidential debate. After Clinton explained why she had opposed legislation that banned such procedures, Trump said that in that case “you can take baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby.” (Published Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016)

    Rolling his eyes, Trump said, "Now she's blaming the late, great Abraham Lincoln." 

    WikiLeaks published another 2,000 emails Monday that it said belonged to Clinton campaign chief John Podesta.