JANESVILLE, Wisconsin — “Never Trump” movement leader Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard seemingly accidentally let the cat out of the bag about House Speaker Paul Ryan: Kristol says Ryan is secretly working against Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president.
“Trump is corrupting everyone who has supported him, or who is working for him, and even is accommodating or rationalizing,” Kristol said in an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Thursday, one his own publication the Weekly Standard promoted online.
During the interview, Kristol incredibly claimed that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence—Donald Trump’s running mate, the vice presidential nominee—does not like Trump. But then Kristol laid out how Ryan, who has consistently and repeatedly aimed to undermine the Republican Party’s nominee for president at every turn, deep down does not want Trump to win.
“At some point, doesn’t, sort of, self-respect sort of rear up and you just say to yourself ‘why am I saying things I don’t believe?’ Paul Ryan does not believe that Donald Trump should be the next president of the United States,” Kristol said.
Ryan is fighting the political battle of his life here ahead of his primary next Tuesday. The Republican candidate in Wisconsin’s first congressional district, Paul Nehlen, is giving him the first serious challenge he’s ever faced in an election in nearly two decades in Congress other than Ryan’s failed bid for the vice presidency as Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012.
It’s unclear if Nehlen has a shot at winning, but Ryan is being forced to seriously campaign for his seat in the U.S. House for the first time ever—and is being forced to defend his support for open borders policies on trade and immigration.
Ryan technically endorsed Trump for president, and served as chairman of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July. But he was worked against Trump in many instances, repeatedly undermining the GOP nominee’s campaign whenever he can.
Trump hasn’t endorsed Ryan for re-election in his congressional seat yet, but sources tell Breitbart News he will likely do so before Tuesday’s primary. Trump is set to be here in Wisconsin–albeit on the other side of the state in Green Bay–on Friday. It’s unclear when Trump’s endorsement of Ryan will come, but if one thing is clear Trump endorsements of congressional candidates this year don’t usually turn out well for those candidates. He backed outgoing Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC), an early supporter of his campaign but a bastion of the Washington establishment nonetheless, in her primary. But she lost in her race despite Trump’s support. It’s unlikely Trump’s backing of Ryan, if and when it comes, would help him regain the footing the Speaker has lost in the past few days.
Ryan is expected to, if somehow Democratic nominee for president Hillary Clinton wins in November’s general election against Trump, launch a presidential bid of his own in 2020–so Kristol’s revelation about Ryan’s true motivations, wanting to see Trump lose despite a tepid endorsement of him, is unsurprising. If Trump wins in November, Ryan’s presidential campaign plans are all but finished.
Kristol infamously pushed National Review columnist David French to launch an independent presidential campaign of his own, something Romney hyped. But French ultimately opted out of the effort, yet another embarrassing defeat for the “Never Trump” movement.