Guest Opinion: Ryan needs to pull endorsement

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Oct. 11
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House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has tiptoed to the water’s edge but he still won’t jump in. If he really wants to maintain the integrity of the Republican Party and its principles — and save down ticket candidates — Ryan needs to repudiate his endorsement of GOP nominee Donald Trump.

Instead, Ryan keeps dancing around the edges. On Monday, in a conference call with his House colleagues, Ryan declared he would no longer defend Trump or campaign with him. He said he would concentrate on saving the House for the Republicans and told House members, “You all need to do what’s best for you in your district,” according to someone on the call.

Politico reported that, according to multiple sources familiar with the discussions within his inner circle, Ryan has discussed with close advisers whether he should formally withdraw his endorsement of Trump.

But he declined to do so Monday, and one is left wondering how far Trump would have to go for Ryan to disavow that endorsement. Along with every other thinking person, Ryan rightfully condemned Trump’s lewd and offensive remarks about women captured in a video recording 11 years ago and released last week. Ryan has criticized many other Trump statements that have demonstrated just how unfit Trump is for public office.

But he won’t withdraw his endorsement. Why not? Apparently because he thinks by doing so, he would endanger his party’s chances of winning other elections, especially in the House. But by continuing to stand by (if somewhat apart) the GOP pretender for the presidency, Ryan calls into question the party’s basic principles, which ultimately may have the opposite effect of what he wants.

We agree with Hillary Clinton on this much: The remarks captured on the recording reveal exactly what kind of man Trump is, just as his threat to jail Clinton in Sunday night’s debate reveal the kind of authoritarianism he would bring to the White House if elected, as Washington columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. notes.

And, no, we don’t chalk up the remarks to locker room banter as Trump dismissively labeled them (unless this was a locker room full of 13-year-olds). Those remarks were part of a pattern that clearly reveal Trump’s attitude to women and his crude outlook on life.

Other Republicans have not been as careful as Ryan. Republicans who repudiated Trump over the weekend include at least two down ticket candidates — New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Nevada GOP Senate candidate Joe Heck — as well as Arizona Sen. John McCain.

Ryan and other Republican leaders should make clear that they will fight tooth and nail for the Republican Party but that Donald Trump does not deserve their endorsements.