WASHINGTON – Donald Trump is still unhappy with Paul Ryan (and vice-versa). The former president used one of his frequent written statements Friday to attack Ryan for saying in a high-profile speech that the Republican Party should move forward by focusing on principles rather than individuals like Trump.
Trump responded by attacking Ryan’s record as House Speaker, his performance as Mitt Romney’s running mate during the 2012 presidential election, and his vote-getting abilities in general. “As a Republican, having Paul Ryan on your side almost guarantees a loss, for both you, the Party, and America itself!” Trump said.
Ryan did not attack Trump directly during his Thursday speech at the Ronald Reagan library, but clearly made critical reference to the volatile ex-president in urging fellow Republicans to campaign on ideas.
“If the conservative cause depends on the populist appeal of one personality, or on second-rate imitations, then we’re not going anywhere,” Ryan said at one point. While not naming names, Ryan also mocked Republican lawmakers who have continued to promote Trump as the leader of the GOP.
Citing Trump’s estate in Palm Beach, Fla., Ryan said: “Voters looking for Republican leaders want to see independence and mettle. They will not be impressed by the sight of yes-men and flatterers flocking to Mar-a-Lago.”
Ryan’s speech kicked off a new speakers series on challenges facing the Republican Party, a project sponsored by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute. A former House speaker who clashed repeatedly with Trump, Ryan did credit the ex-president for bringing new voters to the party and for tethering much of his populist appeal to “conservative principles.”
He also clearly tried to portray Trump as a leader of the past. After mentioning the political fallout front the COVID pandemic, Ryan said: “That calamity, along with some fiascos of the president’s own making, set the scene for our present challenges.” Trump certainly picked up Ryan’s message. “Paul Ryan has been a curse to the Republican Party,” Trump said. “He has no clue as to what needs to be done for our Country.” Ryan had no comment on Trump’s statement.