Former President Paul Ryan Calls Himself a ‘Never-Again-Trumper’

Just days after Donald Trump announced his third run for the White House, former House Speaker Paul Ryan denounced the twice-impeached former president’s political future, calling himself “Never-Again -Trumper”.

“I am proud of the accomplishments [during the Trump administration] — tax reform, deregulation and criminal justice reform — I’m really excited about the justices we have on the bench, not just on the Supreme Court, but throughout the justice system,” Ryan said. to ABC News’ Washington Chief Correspondent and “This Week” co-anchor Jonathan Karl in an exclusive interview that aired Sunday. “But I’m a Never-Again-Trumper. Why? Because I want to win, and we lose with Trump. It was really clear for us in 2018, in 20 and now in 2022.”

While the Republicans won the House with a slim majority, they failed to overthrow the Senate. The widely heralded “red wave” for this mid-term season has not materialized. Ryan put the blame directly on the former president.

“Personally, I think the evidence is really clear,” Ryan said during his first interview on the Sunday show since leaving office in 2019. “The biggest factor was the Trump factor…I think we would have won places like Arizona, places like Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, we had a typical, traditional conservative Republican, not a Trump Republican.”

“With Trump, we lose,” he added.

“We lost the house in 2018,” Ryan continued. “We lost the presidency in 20. We lost the Senate in 20. And now, in 2022, we should and could have won the Senate. We didn’t. And we have a much smaller majority in the House because of that Trump factor.”

During the interview, Ryan pointed to the lackluster performance of Trump-endorsed candidates at the midpoint. At least 30 of the candidates hand-picked by the former president, including some of the most notable candidates from various states, have lost their general elections after winning their primaries.

“He can get his people through the primaries, but he can’t win the general election,” Ryan said. “We get past Trump, we start winning elections. We stay with Trump, we keep losing elections. That’s how I see it.”

What if Trump was the GOP presidential nominee again?

“We [will] probably lose the White House,” Ryan said, adding that he thinks suburban voters don’t like Trump or the candidates he supports.

In 2016, Trump managed to hold off a crowded GOP presidential field with only a plurality of votes in the early primary states. Despite that dynamic, Ryan said he’s not worried the same dynamic could play out in 2024 — that a group of Republicans would split the vote and once again pave the way for Trump to win the party’s nomination.

“That’s my hopeful script,” Ryan said. “Let us consolidate around someone who is forged from this primary process capable of winning the general election, and I bet we – I bet that will happen.”

Ryan remains hopeful, he said. Until the candidate is called Trump, he thinks the Republican candidate will win the White House. He’s looking for a “Reagan 2.0”.

“I really believe that a conservative Reagan 2.0 is something that will be — that the country will want, I think our constituents will want,” he said. “I think our constituents are going to want someone who is a verifiable good conservative, a problem-solver, but also a unifier and someone who isn’t so polarizing.”

In this September 6, 2018 file photo, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan speaks to the media during his weekly press conference at the United States Capitol in Washington, DC.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images, FILE

Ryan backs McCarthy on path to presidency

Republicans will have an extraordinarily slim majority in January, meaning every vote in the Republican caucus will count. Ryan believes current House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is the person who will lead the House as Speaker, saying McCarthy is the “best vote counter” he has ever worked with.

“There’s no one better to lead this conference than Kevin McCarthy,” Ryan said, endorsing his former colleague. “He’s been good for the Tories, frankly, but he’s also a person who really understands how to run a conference.”

When Ryan was president, he had a much larger majority in the House than the Republican Party will have in 2023.

“No matter what bill you are going to bring to the ground, it is almost impossible with this [of] a majority for only your party to pass laws,” Ryan said.

“That said, there is nothing more unifying than a very razor-thin majority,” he continued. “It makes people realize that I can’t get everything I want; I have to be part of a team; I’m not going to have to negotiate or compromise.”

Ryan said McCarthy understood he needed the whole conference to work with him. He said McCarthy would be able to motivate the different wings of the Republican Party — from more moderate districts to the Tuesday Group to the Freedom Caucus.

Prior to the midterms, at least nine impeachment resolutions against President Joe Biden and members of his cabinet have been introduced by representatives such as Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz, Paul Gosar and Marjorie Taylor Greene. The basis of the resolutions ranged from the chaotic withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan to the business dealings of President Hunter Biden’s son.

“Would it be a mistake for Republicans that instead of having the ideas that you talk about, you go into, you know, heavy and heavy investigations? Karl asked.

“No, they have to do oversight,” Ryan pushed back, adding that he thinks there should be some accountability with Hunter Biden and the other investigations.

“I’m a big Article 1 guy,” he continued. “What this means is that I strongly believe that the legislative branch of government conducts extensive oversight of the executive branch to hold them accountable.”

But he still thinks Republicans need to push an agenda to solve the problems Americans face every day.

“Can they chew gum and walk at the same time? said Ryan. “Carry out investigations, hold review hearings, hold the executive to account and come up with new ideas and solutions to our problems? Yes. That’s what Congress is supposed to do.

“I think there are important issues in our culture that need to be advocated and we need to preserve the principles of our country, but it’s not enough, you know, to be really good on Twitter and survive in the entertainment wing of our party,” Ryan added. “You have to offer solutions to a country.”

Ryan charts his course for the GOP again

Ryan left office in 2019 after spending 20 years in Congress, four of which he served as Speaker of the House, working under both a Democratic and Republican president. But he said he wasn’t done trying to find solutions to America’s problems. He released a new book: “American Renewal: A Conservative Plan to Strengthen the Social Contract and Save the Country’s Finances”.

“In this book, we offer very granular solutions to the big problems facing America,” Ryan said. One of his main concerns, he said, is what he called the unsustainable debt trajectory that America finds itself on. He said his book offers “a conservative blueprint to help this country overcome its enormous challenges”.

Ryan acknowledged that Americans want retirement health and security, but he thinks current programs aren’t sustainable in the 21st century.

“The Medicare Trust Fund is going bankrupt in this decade,” Ryan said. “Social Security Trust Fund goes bankrupt in 2032.”

But Ryan, the self-proclaimed optimist, thinks these problems can be solved.

“There are changes you can make to the social security system today that [guarantees] people who rely on this program will always have these benefits,” he said. “We are going to have to reform these programs so that you and I and the next generation actually have something. That’s the kind of conversation we need to bring to our debate, I think, in our federal, state politics, and I think we can because America always gets it right at the end of the process.”

In Praise of Pelosi’s Legacy

When asked if current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has left her leadership role, Ryan praised her and her legacy.

“Obviously there are things she and I usually disagree on, but the first female president — a career we can be proud of,” Ryan said. “She broke a glass ceiling, and there’s something to be proud of there.”

Addressing the attack on the speaker’s husband, Paul Pelosi, he called it “terrible” and said he had given it a lot of thought.

Nancy Pelosi cited a reason she quit to spend more time with her family, which Ryan understood. He himself retired from politics to spend more time with his family. He now teaches economics at the University of Notre Dame, has a poverty foundation and works at the American Enterprise Institute, a center-right think tank.

A return to politics?

“You talked about the leadership of the party and the leadership of the country. Will we ever see you again in politics? Karl asked.

“I like doing it like I do now,” Ryan said.

When asked if he would run for president in 2024, Ryan replied: “No, I mean, I’m definitely not running in 2024. I don’t think I have – it’s just – I have a presidential-sized political ambition, but I really don’t have a presidential-sized personal ambition, so I don’t see myself doing that.”

“OK, so we can consider that as a maybe,” joked Karl.

“No,” Ryan laughed. “I do not think so.”

ABC News

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