According to his Democratic challenger Randy Bryce, Paul Ryan is too close to Trump, and it could cost him his seat in 2018.
Republican challenger Paul Nehlen said just the opposite on a recent political talk show: Ryan is vulnerable because he isn’t supporting Trump strongly enough.
“Speaker Ryan has so many opportunities to do good conservative work that he’s letting fritter away,” Nehlen said. “And I would argue the reason why is he’s a Never Trump-er.”
Nehlen announced in June that he is planning to battle Ryan for the Republican slot in Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District next year. A strong Trump supporter, Nehlen said on a recent episode of “Capital City Sunday,” that Ryan’s stance on issues like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the border wall and Planned Parenthood are not conservative enough and that Ryan isn’t doing a good enough job backing Trump.
This is not the first time Nehlen has challenged Ryan in a primary. Last time, he lost by 68 points.
But, according to him, “I actually won.”
He explained that he ran because of his strong opposition to TPP, which he said Ryan was “whipping the votes for.” But in “the waning days of my campaign, Speaker Ryan changed his tune on this deal,” Nehlen claimed.
“I think I’m having an effect on Speaker Ryan and his policies and moving him in the right direction,” he said.
The TPP was an example of a policy where Ryan’s view should have reflected Trump’s, Nehlen said. Trump’s desire to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico is another, he said.
Last week, the House of Representatives passed a spending bill with $1.6 billion for the wall, but Nehlen said Ryan had been in Congress for 18 years with plenty of time to act on border security.
“Speaker Ryan controls federal government purse strings, if he wanted a border wall, he would be controlling the news cycle, he would be guaranteeing that that happens,” he said.
By way of demonstrating his own commitment to border security, Nehlen said that he and his wife had donated over $50,000 to border sheriffs for rifles, body armor, drones and night vision equipment so that “when they go out to work, they can come home and see their family.”
Again citing Ryan’s control over the “federal purse strings,” Nehlen said Ryan’s spending hasn’t been supportive enough of conservative policies.
“What is he spending the money on? He’s spending the money on everything that Obama wanted,” he said.
The first spending bill under the Trump administration did not defund sanctuary cities, Planned Parenthood or “the refugee resettlement racket,” Nehlen said.
While Nehlen called Ryan a “Never Trumper,” host Greg Neumann questioned whether this was true, as Ryan stated in a conference call with other Republicans that he wouldn’t defend Trump, not necessarily that he wouldn’t support him.
Nehlen also accused Ryan of trying to take partial credit for the recent announcement that Taiwanese manufacturing company Foxconn will build a manufacturing plant in Wisconsin. Neumann pointed out that Ryan has said that although he had met with Foxconn officials a few times, Gov. Scott Walker was “quarterbacking” the effort.
Nehlen said that while he “applauded” Walker, real credit for the deal belongs to Trump.
“I would suggest that it wasn’t Gov. Walker that necessarily got the ball down to the five-yard line, it was President Trump that got the ball to the five-yard line,” he said.
Neumann asked why Nehlan continues to be “extremely sympathetic to the plight of the president,” when a lot of Republicans are “getting off that bandwagon everyday.”
Nehlen said he didn’t expect that Trump’s administration would have an easy time after inauguration.
“We knew that we were going to hit the beach with a win and we were going to continue to battle for eight years,” he said. “We didn’t think we were going to walk into the White House and everything was going to go smoothly.”