At a CNN town hall forum on Monday, House Speaker Paul Ryan faced some pointed questions from the home-district audience in Racine, Wisconsin. The town hall directly followed President Trump's speech on the Afghanistan war, and Ryan praised the address, saying he thinks he heard a new Trump doctrine, "principled realism," and appreciated that Trump did not set any deadlines for ending the war, arguing that the U.S. "shouldn't telegraph our timetable for when we're leaving," because the Taliban would just "wait us out."
In another notable exchange, a Dominican nun, Sister Erica Jordan, asked Ryan how he squares his Catholic faith with his and his party's laissez-faire policies of cutting taxes, social services, and health-care support. Ryan said he wants to help the poor, and he thinks the best way to do that is by promoting "upward mobility and economic growth." The "war on poverty" has largely failed, he said. Jordan did not look terribly impressed.
Ryan's answers drew some questions and comments from people who weren't in the room, like Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), who pushed back on Ryan's timetable quote, tweeting: "If your view is that any declaration of a war's end will precipitate victory for some undefined enemy, then the war can never end." The Week's Ryan Cooper added that the Taliban doesn't "have to know the exact moment we're going to give up to be 100 percent certain we will eventually." HuffPost's Matt Fuller cut deep:
And even Ryan's likely Democratic challenger, Randy Bryce, had some questions he posed in an ad, since he wasn't invited to the town hall, Ryan's first in his district in two years.
Bryce ran that and another, more polished ad during the CNN broadcast in the district.