After the publication of the 11-year-old tape showing Donald Trump boasting about sexual assault, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Monday told colleagues he will no longer defend or campaign on behalf of the party’s nominee and will instead focusing on maintaining the GOP House majority, all but conceding defeat to the Democrats in November. But that doesn’t mean he’s pulling his endorsement of Trump.
On a conference call with House Republicans, Ryan urged members to focus on their own re-election races, saying they should make their own decisions about how to handle speaking about Trump, two people on the call told the New York Times. As the call turned heated, Ryan reportedly came back on the line to clarify that he wouldn’t formally withdraw his endorsement of the party’s nominee.
Trump earned the ire of Republican leadership after media outlets published a 2005 video of the nominee, apparently unaware his mic was hot, bragging that his fame allows him to grab women “by the pussy” and saying he often kisses women without their consent.
The tape seemed to have done major damage to Trump; his numbers plummeted in a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released on Monday.
Numerous elected Republicans withdrew their endorsements of Trump over the video, and the remarks remained an early focus of Sunday night’s second presidential debate which saw Trump on the defensive, striking out viciously at Hillary Clinton.
After Ryan’s remarks were reported, Trump tweeted that Ryan should mind his own business.