Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) said Monday that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was “cowardly” for announcing that he would not defend Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, and would not campaign for his election.
Ryan made his announcement on a conference call with fellow members of the Republican caucus on Monday morning, just hours after Trump had turned in a strong debate performance against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in St. Louis on Sunday night.
“Leaders are supposed to stand firm and solid in moments of crisis,” Rohrabacher told the Orange County Register. “Instead, he’s in a panic. It’s not good leadership. … I think the Republicans who are backing away are gutless. We don’t have to just be concerned about saving House seats. We have to be concerned about saving the United States of America.” Other Republican congressmen from Orange County have been critical of Trump’s comments but none has withdrawn their political support.
Ryan still technically supports Trump for president, but is seeking to insulate members of his caucus from efforts by their Democratic challengers to tie them to Trump’s latest controversy.
In some districts, the danger is real, and precedes the latest Trump controversy. In others, Republicans simply seem to be caught up in the panic of a media frenzy. Similar panic did not help Republicans, even pro-choice ones, when Democrats tried to tie them to abortion remarks by Rep. Todd Akin in 2012.
On Monday afternoon, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer noted on Special Report that Ryan’s announcement, so soon after Trump was perceived by many to have won the debate, “ripped off the bandage” and hurt Trump’s attempt to keep the party together.
Trump’s response to Ryan was to tweet that he was wasting his time on political infighting instead of doing his job:
Paul Ryan should spend more time on balancing the budget, jobs and illegal immigration and not waste his time on fighting Republican nominee
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 10, 2016
He added on Tuesday morning:
Despite winning the second debate in a landslide (every poll), it is hard to do well when Paul Ryan and others give zero support!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2016
Rohrabacher added that while he found Trump’s remarks on a newly-unearthed 2005 video “crass,” his jokes about groping women did not compare with “Hillary Clinton intimidating a woman who’s been raped by her husband.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.