Paul Nehlen, a Republican businessman from Wisconsin’s first congressional district, has just launched his 2018 congressional campaign against the anti-Donald Trump House Speaker Paul Ryan.
This is the second time Nehlen is challenging Ryan, after coming up short in the 2016 GOP primary in Wisconsin’s first congressional district.
“Speaker Ryan didn’t help Mr. Trump defeat Hillary Clinton, and even pledged not to defend the president,” Nehlen said in his announcement. “But I have a message for Speaker Ryan: The American people are not done fighting for President Trump’s good agenda. That’s why I am announcing my second challenge to Paul Ryan for the nomination in Wisconsin’s first congressional district.”
Nehlen’s comment refers to audio unearthed by Breitbart News of Ryan during a conference call with House GOP members in which he not only abandoned now-President Donald Trump during the most crucial month of October of the 2016 presidential campaign but pledged to never defend the president again.
“I am not going to defend Donald Trump—not now, not in the future,” Ryan said in the audio of the conference call with House GOP colleagues, which came after the Access Hollywood tape of Trump emerged. Ryan’s comments were notable because he did not say he specifically would not defend Trump on the Access Hollywood tape. His comments meant he would not defend the man who is now president of the United States on anything.
Ryan refused to campaign with President Trump at all until the end of the campaign, but did appear with now-Vice President Mike Pence.
At the time, Ryan spokesman Brendan Buck said things have changed since Trump won the election.
“The world is well aware of this history,” Buck said of the audio tape of Ryan throwing Trump under the bus.
“And obviously a lot has happened since then. As everyone knows,” Buck also said, adding in a third comment that “of course they were” when asked if these comments were specifically about the Access Hollywood tapes, even though Ryan did not qualify his abandonment of Trump in the conference call.
“This was in response to that, but as everyone knows, they came together toward the end of the campaign and the Speaker vocally supported him and even campaigned with Pence,” Buck said.
Buck has not responded to a request for comment in response to Nehlen’s announcement he is running again against Ryan. But Nehlen appears to be coming straight at Ryan out of the gate, more than a year before the primary against Ryan. That extra time will give Nehlen an ability to build his name ID in the district, fundraise, and gain steam against the Speaker of the House.
Nehlen continued in his statement.
Last year in my first challenge to Speaker Ryan, we managed to kill Ryan’s and Obama’s job-killing deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But Paul Ryan apparently hasn’t gotten the memo. Millions of Americans voted for President Trump, and they expect Paul Ryan to work to repeal Obamacare; end bad, job-killing trade deals; close the border; and back the President’s strong, America First agenda. But that hasn’t happened. But unbelievably, Paul Ryan has fully funded the dangerous refugee resettlement racket. That is not what we voted for.
Nehlen is correct that he successfully forced Ryan to oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which President Trump has since gone on to officially kill once and for all. He also forced Ryan to campaign on bended knee in front of actual factory workers in Wisconsin. But he did come up short, winning less than 20 percent of the vote in the primary against Ryan.
Nehlen concluded in his Friday statement by saying that Ryan is a “career politician” who must be drained from the swamp of Washington, D.C. Nehlen said:
Paul Ryan is a career politician who has been in D.C. for nearly two decades. He may have been a nice Wisconsin boy when he left Janesville, but now Ryan is working for special interests and industry bosses, working to sell Wisconsin’s jobs to Mexico and Asia. Ryan is working hand-in-hand with multinational corporations to reduce their costs by giving them access to low-paid immigrant labor. And it is decimating WIsconsin’s economy. Wisconsin voted to drain the swamp last November, so that’s what I’m going to do.
During the primary last year, Trump—then officially the GOP nominee for President—Tweeted out support for Nehlen. After significant backlash in the media and inside the Republican Party, Trump eventually officially endorsed Ryan for Congress in the name of GOP unity—something Ryan, of course, reneged on in October. But Trump’s endorsement, which he famously read off a piece of paper, was viewed as a hollow one by many hardcore Trump supporters, almost as though he had to do it.
Trump went on to win Wisconsin in the general election—adding the rust belt state and its 10 electoral votes to others like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Michigan to his win total, carrying him into the White House—without Ryan’s support. Now, according to some polls, Trump is more popular in Ryan’s own district than Ryan—something Nehlen will surely be banking on in the 2018 primary campaign he’s running against Ryan.