JANESVILLE, Wisconsin — Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are among the establishment Republicans rallying behind House Speaker Paul Ryan ahead of his primary challenge here by Republican businessman Paul Nehlen.
“Kasich has endorsed Paul Ryan and supports him which everyone knows, you can watch his Jake Tapper interview from this afternoon,” Kasich spokesman Chris Schrimpf told Breitbart News on Friday.
In that Tapper interview, Kasich—who has been particularly critical of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and has refused to endorse his formal rival thus far—called Trump’s prior refusal to endorse Ryan “bizarre.” Kasich praised Ryan and called him “positive.”
Romney also endorsed Ryan on Friday, backing his former running mate from when they failed to beat President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in the 2012 election.
“Governor Romney is an ardent supporter of Paul Ryan and his re-election campaign,” Romney spokeswoman Leah Malone told Breitbart News.
Romney’s and Kasich’s endorsements of Ryan’s reelection campaign come as Trump endorsed Ryan on Friday night over in Green Bay, after previously withholding his endorsement of Ryan’s reelection. Ryan has been, despite formally endorsing Trump, undermining Trump’s campaign and essentially helping Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton whenever he possibly can. After the latest time Ryan backed up Clinton against Trump, Trump told the Washington Post he wasn’t ready to endorse Ryan for reelection and then praised Ryan’s challenger Nehlen.
Nehlen has emerged as an interesting and unique force, and whether or not he wins on Tuesday he has already changed the national political discussion and trajectory of the country. Because of this race, Ryan has flip-flopped on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Pacific Rim trade deal—now opposing it after being a leading champion for it for more than a year.
Because of Nehlen, Ryan has promised the country there will be no votes on the TPP in the House of Representatives this year since there is not enough support for the trade deal to pass. That means the deal is essentially dead, and a new president next year may either re-negotiate it or kill it entirely.
Kasich’s and Romney’s decisions to endorse Ryan’s reelection come as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), another of Trump’s former rivals who failed to endorse Trump on the Republican National Convention stage despite a primetime speaking slot, refused to endorse Ryan.
“Sen. Cruz likes and respects Paul Ryan,” Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier told Breitbart News when asked if Cruz would endorse Ryan. “He considers endorsements when asked, and in this case a request wasn’t made.”