The relationship between Donald Trump and the top elected Republican official, House Speaker Paul Ryan, has always been fraught, and it went downhill after Ryan stopped defending Trump and refused to appear in public with him following the publication of 2005 hot-mic comments in which Trump bragged lewdly about forcing himself on women. On Sunday, Ryan rejected Trump's baseless allegation that the voting system is rigged against him, and Trump hit back on Twitter suggesting, among other things, that Ryan isn't paying enough attention to the budget.
Before Trump took the stage at a rally in Ryan's home state, Wisconsin, his supporters in the audience began chanting "Paul Ryan sucks!" — to the obvious discomfort of the warmup speaker.
Ryan isn't the only GOP leader from Wisconsin, a state Trump lost in the GOP primary — so is Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, who has stuck with Trump publicly and financially. Ryan is "in a no-win situation," says Dana Milbank at The Washington Post. "He could revoke his Trump endorsement, but this would require resigning the speakership, because a majority of GOP caucus members are from heavily conservative districts where Trump is popular." Milbank continues:
They, like Trump and his legions, are already furious with Ryan, and his criticism of Trump only makes them angrier. I'm told Ryan considered resigning, but this would accomplish little beyond generating more chaos in an already ungovernable GOP caucus. Alternatively, Ryan could have been quiet about Trump's outrages as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has, or he could have become a Trump cheerleader the way [Mike] Pence has. That might have better preserved Ryan's standing with conservatives for a 2020 presidential run. But Pence and McConnell have sacrificed their moral standing. Liberals call Ryan cowardly because he won’t formally un-endorse Trump, but he has left no doubt about his contempt for his party's nominee. [The Washington Post]