Ryan Sidesteps Trump Uproar to Focus on ‘Better Way’ Agenda

  • House speaker discusses Obamacare, taxes, national security
  • Trump situation is ‘troubling,’ Ryan says at Wisconsin rally

House speaker Paul Ryan used a Republican fundraiser in his Wisconsin district Saturday to deliver a stump speech promoting his "Better Way" agenda after quickly sidestepping the uproar surrounding Donald Trump’s vulgar remarks about women.

Ryan referred to Trump’s comments and the ensuing chaos as the "elephant in the room," before dismissing the situation as "troubling."

The country’s top-ranking elected Republican is trying to keep his party intact amid an avalanche of Trump defections. While Ryan sought to avoid the issue at today’s outdoor rally, which featured haystacks, pumpkins and American flags, tension within the crowd was palpable. Some voters expressed anger at him for not including the Republican nominee in the event, while others described themselves as reluctant Trump voters who appreciated Ryan’s diplomacy.

Ryan, who could lose his majority leadership position if Trump does enough damage to House GOP candidates on Election Day, told his fellow Wisconsinites that they must do everything possible to ensure incumbent Republican Senator Ron Johnson is re-elected.

”This is something that’s right here within our power,” Ryan said.

Trump Disinvited

Ryan took the stage alongside Johnson and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Trump was disinvited from the event hours after the Washington Post Friday published video of his sexually profane remarks. The event had meant to be a show of Republican unity.

Ryan yesterday said he was “sickened” by Trump’s lewd remarks and rescinded his invitation. Trump’s running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, was to attend instead, but then canceled. A growing list of Republican lawmakers, including the Senate’s No. 3-ranking Republican, Senator John Thune, are calling on Trump to end his presidential candidacy.

"Donald Trump should withdraw and Mike Pence should be our nominee effective immediately,” Thune said via Twitter post.

Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, said Saturday he and his wife won’t vote for Trump.

Pence said he was offended by Trump’s words and actions and can’t defend him. The Christian conservative also said he’s “grateful” that Trump has expressed remorse and that he is praying for his family. He said he is looking forward to Trump having the chance to show Americans what is “in his heart” at Sunday night’s debate with Hillary Clinton.

Disgruntled Supporters

Senator Johnson, who already had been keeping his distance from Trump, said his "recent comments are completely indefensible and I refuse to even attempt to try and do so,” in a statement Friday.

Several disgruntled Trump supporters at the Wisconsin rally said supporting the Republican candidate had become more difficult.

"It’s really hard to support Trump," said Gladys Peterson, a retired Montessori teacher. "We need the judges, we need to get rid of abortion and he’ll do that," she said, but acknowledged she’s angry at him because of all his antics. "The message needs to be about what the country is about, not what Trump is about."