Paul Ryan supports Donald Trump for president — but does Trump support the Republican House Speaker against his primary challenger?
It was assumed by many politicos that Trump was supporting Ryan in his primary fight against Wisconsin businessman Paul Nehlen, but the Republican presidential nominee put that assumption into question with a Monday tweet.
Thanks to @pnehlen for your kind words, very much appreciated.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2016
Trump was presumably thanking Nehlen for a Monday press release standing behind Trump and bashing Ryan over the Khizr Khan imbroglio. Ryan issued a press release Sunday distancing himself from Trump’s handling of the situation by criticizing the idea of a ban on immigrants based on religion and praising the sacrifice of Khan’s son, a U.S. soldier who died in Iraq in 2004.
In response, Nehlen issued his own statement Monday arguing Ryan had misrepresented Trump’s position on a ban on Muslims entering the United States. (Since coming out in favor of a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States in December, Trump seems to have modified his proposal to make it less based on on religion.)
“The problem with Paul Ryan is his constant knee-jerk reactions to anything controversial Donald Trump might say without completely understanding the issue,” Nehlen’s statement read, in part. “He’s LOOKING for a way to contradict and criticize Mr. Trump because he knows the liberal press will eat it up.”
“And every time he jumps in front of reporters and takes an uninformed shot at Mr. Trump, he’s helping to elect Hillary Clinton,” the release continued. “The best way to stop Paul Ryan from continuing to provide this aid-and-comfort to the Clinton camp is to defeat him in the August 9 GOP primary in Wisconsin’s 1st District. Dump Ryan. Vote Nehlen.”
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for clarification whether Trump supports Ryan in his primary challenge against Nehlen.
Nehlen is viewed as a long shot to upset the House speaker in the primary, but he has earned the support of several prominent immigration hawks, including Ann Coulter, who will campaign with Nehlen this Saturday.