When House Speaker Paul Ryan told fellow House Republicans that he would no longer campaign with or defend GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, he may have felt it was the obvious, principled position to take.
Ryan’s goal in distancing himself from Trump, he told House GOP lawmakers on a conference call Monday, was to focus on saving the GOP majority in the House, potentially imperiled by Trump’s decline in polls. But Ryan’s new posture may already have backfired. Some fellow GOP House members are furious. And national party chairman Reince Priebus pointedly has not abandoned Trump, pledging to keep spending party money on the nominee’s campaign.
Priebus is playing it smart, says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell.
“At the end of day, this is Trump’s party, he’s the standard-bearer, he’s the one generating the enthusiasm,” says Mr. O’Connell, chair of Civic Forum political action committee. “So the better he does in your state, the better off you are.”
“Split-ticket voting beyond 10 percent statewide is literally a myth,” says O’Connell.
The party is in civil war, and what everyone seems to forget is this: Parties are not ideological machines,” says O’Connell. “They are competing enterprises designed to win elections. Sometimes you have to recognize that, even if it’s not your cup of tea. The Democrats get that.”