GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump hasn’t held back in his attacks against Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, alleging he isn’t supportive enough and “doesn’t know how to win.” But what Trump has failed to acknowledge, Ryan’s allies maintain, is how the Wisconsin Republican’s efforts to keep the majority directly benefit the presidential hopeful’s campaign.
Ryan has played a pivotal role in putting the Badger State in play, having helped raise a whopping $1 million for the state’s party after transferring $250,000 to the group in late October. The funds — which are available to all Republicans, including Trump, running in Wisconsin — are being utilized to build one of the strongest ground games in the country.
In August, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton held a 16-point lead in Wisconsin polls over Trump, who now trails the former first lady by just 4 points according to the latest Remington Research poll. In 2012, President Barack Obama beat former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who ran with Ryan on the ticket, by 6.9 points in Wisconsin, despite the congressman’s high approval rating in his home state.
“Speaker Paul Ryan’s generous support has provided the Republican Party of Wisconsin with financial resources to win races up and down the ballot this November. Our organization is on a strong financial footing, and can match what Hillary Clinton and the DNC has provided to Democrats here in Wisconsin,” Pat Garrett, the spokesman for the Republican Party of Wisconsin, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement. “We have an opportunity to make history for the Republican Party in a presidential election year, which would not be possible without the incredible support and leadership from Speaker Ryan.”
While presidential campaigns are traditionally responsible for transferring funds to state parties, the Trump campaign has put little emphasis on its grassroots efforts, and the speaker appears to be picking up the tab for the top of the ticket’s GOTV operation in Wisconsin.
Critics have been quick to blame Ryan’s decision to condemn a number of Trump’s remarks when poll numbers are down, with Breitbart’s Julia Hahn going as far as to allege he is deliberately trying to assist the Clinton campaign. But supporters say accusations he’s dragging down Trump’s ability to win are unwarranted, noting he has not conceded the election.
Republicans can’t lose more than 30 seats if they want to keep their majority in the in the lower chamber, and Ryan has made it clear from the beginning his top priority is winning as many seats as possible.
The unique nature of the 2016 election cycle has presented a new set of challenges for members of the party fighting to keep their seats. Ryan warned donors in August that Trump could have a polarizing effect in certain swing districts, putting the House at risk. He has worked to mitigate any negative impact that might have been felt by vulnerable candidates, attending 65 campaign events in 17 states and 42 cities in October alone, in addition to raising nearly $50 million to aid with races during the course of the election cycle.
Sources close to Ryan say he remains focused on uniting the party behind conservative principles and getting down-ballot candidates elected — something they believe will help drive Republicans to the polls on Nov. 8.
“If you look at these battleground states and the battleground districts within those battleground states, our Republican candidates are doing very, very well,” Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry told TheDCNF. “They are faring the environment well, and that makes a big difference in turnout; that makes a big difference, given how complicated this election year is in those battleground states — so I think that’s the best way we’ve been able to help.”
Ryan announced in October he would no longer campaign with or defend the nominee’s comments following the leak of a 2005 video showing the billionaire making lewd comments about women. The Wisconsin Republican instructed House lawmakers to do what they felt was best for them and their districts — a suggestion that didn’t sit well with Trump.
Trump went on a social media tirade, tweeting he was happy the “shackles were being taken off him” so he can run his campaign freely, adding he thinks Ryan “should spend more time on balancing the budget, jobs and illegal immigration and not waste his time on fighting Republican nominee.”
The speaker has largely remained mum on Trump’s attacks, opting instead to continue his crusade against Clinton and her policies.
Once Trump became the de facto GOP nominee, Ryan, a long-time friend of vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, made an effort to arrange multiple meetings with House Republicans — providing the candidate a chance to sway members hesitant to support him. He also played a central role in the success seen at the Republican National Convention, serving as chairman despite their conflicting views in key policy areas.
It’s far from a secret Trump and Ryan don’t see eye-to-eye on every issue, namely in the areas of immigration and trade, but the speaker made it clear in his June op-ed endorsing the candidate he believes they can work together to accomplish common goals that could bring the party together.
Contrary to Trump’s claim Ryan retracted his endorsement, the Wisconsin Republican maintains it remains intact.
Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks declined TheDCNF’s request for comment.
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