Why Ryan and McConnell split over Trump

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Why Ryan and McConnell split over Trump

Post by Admin on Mon Oct 17, 2016 7:17 pm

Paul Ryan immediately came under fire from Donald Trump after declaring he’ll no longer defend or campaign for his party’s bombastic nominee. Mitch McConnell, on the other hand, went mum, privately sharing advice with vulnerable Republican Senate candidates on how to handle Trump’s vulgar sex talk — and publicly telling those interested in his take to take a hike.

The divergent strategies of the nation’s two leading Republicans highlighted their contrasting personalities and political imperatives: Ryan, the high-minded policy guru with potential White House aspirations of his own, and McConnell, the cunning, cautious behind-the-scenes operator with no room for error in an awful election environment for Senate Republicans.

Ryan and McConnell left Republicans guessing whose tactics will look smarter in a month.
“Unlike senators, who are already very independent, I think [Ryan] sees himself as the leader of the team and, based on his governing strategy, wants to find a place that works — which is inherently difficult,” said a Republican official with House ties. Like others weighing in on the explosive matter, the person asked not to be named.
“As a general rule of political thumb I always believe the best thing to do is see what Paul Ryan does and then do the exact opposite,” scoffed a second Republican official loyal to the Senate side. “Everyone on that side of the Hill is playing checkers.”
The disparate approaches can partly be explained by the stage of their careers and political aspirations. The 46-year-old speaker hasn't ruled out running for president in 2020, and that alone sets him apart from McConnell, who ascended to his dream job of majority leader last year at 73.
“My guess is Paul Ryan is running for president and Mitch McConnell isn’t,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who served with Ryan in the House, said when asked about their different tacks. “It’s not Mitch McConnell’s style to get into public wars of words with other members of his party. It’s a difference of style. Paul Ryan has always lived a much more public life.”

The two GOP leaders did talk after Friday’s video bombshell before going their separate ways, aides said. After going quiet for two days, Ryan came out swinging, telling his conference on a members-only phone call Monday that he’s done defending Trump. Afterward, sources said he might still rescind his endorsement.

If Trump loses in November, which Ryan all but conceded in his conference call with lawmakers Monday, many expect the Republican Party will turn to Ryan to help lead a rebuilding effort, whether as speaker or a candidate for president. By vocally pushing back against Trump, Ryan has once again put himself front-and-center as the ringleader for Republicans wary of their nominee, who he’s never particularly warmed to.
McConnell, however, sees no upside to a public sparring match with Trump less than a month from Election Day; antagonizing Trump voters could further damage the GOP’s fading chances of holding the Senate. Republicans are on defense in all but one of the most competitive Senate races.
While McConnell’s silence earned him sneers from Democrats and some conservatives, it gave his members and GOP candidates their own space to take a position on Trump without being undercut by their leader and asked why they disagree with him.
“All Senate Republicans are grateful for leader McConnell’s dedication to protecting our Senate majority,” said Andrea Bozek, a spokeswoman for the Senate GOP’s campaign arm.
Perhaps more important, McConnell has avoided Trump's ire. The Republican nominee, however, took Ryan to task Tuesday night on FOX News, telling Bill O'Reilly that he doesn't want Ryan's endorsement and if he becomes president Ryan might not get to keep his speakership position. He also attacked Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) who disavowed Trump over the weekend, calling McCain “very foul mouthed” and said the senator begged for his endorsement.
Republicans now wonder who will be next.
McConnell's consistent refusal to comment on the presidential race has always been aimed at protecting his fragile 54-seat majority. At the end of September in his final Capitol Hill news conference before the election, McConnell said he doesn't talk about Trump because, "I choose not to."
Ryan, by contrast, has frequently called out Trump after his most incendiary statements and only reluctantly came around to endorsing him.
Ryan, of course, is also trying to protect his majority, a task that's suddenly grown a lot more challenging. He, too, released his members to do what they need to do to save their seats.
In the end, both men are still technically endorsing Trump, and telling members to chart their own course when it comes to the nominee. But the way they got there, and how their moves were perceived politically, couldn't be much different.
"The two were in close contact over the weekend. And, they are taking the same path — sticking with the endorsement," said a senior Republican aide.

National Republican Campaign Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), whose sole job is to guard House seats, was extremely concerned that Trump’s lewd comments would imperil the House majority, several sources told POLITICO. Indeed, many senior House Republicans felt that drawing a line between Trump and congressional Republicans was necessary to protect GOP incumbents.
"The Speaker reiterated that his top priority is to maintain a majority in the House. He let his colleagues know they should represent their districts the way they see fit," Walden said in a statement. "We all know what happened the last time [Nancy] Pelosi, [Harry] Reid and the White House had no check and balance. And, if Mr. Trump wins he will be darn glad he has Speaker Ryan and a GOP House majority to get this country on a better track."
House GOP leadership knew some of their members wouldn’t agree with their decision. Indeed several Trump supporters in the House are furious with Ryan. But leadership took the risk anyway, betting that most of their colleagues would benefit from distance with the nominee.
Many Republicans are also betting that more controversial comments by Trump will surface as the election nears, potentially further crippling Republicans in tight races in which Democrats are trying to pin Trump’s comments on their GOP rivals. Republicans interviewed by POLITICO this week said they believe more senators and congressmen are ready to jump ship if another Trump bombshell drops.
There are other factors at work. Because he has more members, Ryan is more of a beacon to House Republicans than McConnell is to Senate Republicans. A conference call destined to leak was the only way for the speaker to get his message across with Republicans fanned out across the country. McConnell's caucus is smaller, allowing him to counsel Republican incumbents and challengers one-on-one.
An aide to a Trump supporter in the House, however, pushed back on Ryan’s approach, arguing that the speaker never liked Trump and was looking for an excuse to break with him.
“Ryan has never been a supporter of Trump and has been very calculating in trying to have his cake and eat it too,” the staffer said. “At the end of the day, the Access Hollywood audio pushed Ryan where he always wanted to be: not on the Trump train… Why back yourself into that corner? Only Ryan can say why he did it, but that's why I speculate that it's always where he's been in his heart.”


Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/10/paul-ryan-mitch-mcconnell-donald-trump-229629#ixzz4NO4xkMbd
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