BROOKFIELD, Wis. — House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday adamantly ignored the controversy dogging Republican nominee Donald Trump and insisted his party is “running on ideas" in a speech that laid out the GOP policy agenda.
“Not much going on these days, so there is not much to talk about,” Ryan joked at the top of his address to the Waukesha County Business Alliance luncheon.
“We actually are running on ideas in this election," he added. "You would never know it would you? Guess what? There is an actual choice between two different schools of thought, two different philosophies, two different agendas, before us in this country, but you wouldn’t know it if you turn on the computer or the TV would you?”
Ryan told the crowd he would “take a break from all the mud slinging and the mess that is out there on TV and introduce you to some ideas and some solutions,” and in his speech, Ryan did just that, laying out the bundle of tax, business and regulation reforms that make up the House GOP’s “Better Way” policy agenda.
Though the program for the event stated Ryan would take questions from the crowd, he left without doing so, after speaking for just 20 minutes.
It was a stark contrast with the speech the Republican nominee was giving at the same time, hundreds of miles away in Florida. In front of a crowd of thousands, Trump railed on “the corrupt establishment” and attacked the women that have accused him of assault, continuing the freewheeling, burn-it-down style and message he’s unleashed on the trail over the past week.
But Ryan’s speech Thursday meshed with his announcement on a Monday conference call with House Republicans that he was all but abandoning Trump to focus exclusively on electing downballot Republicans. His decision came in the wake of the release of a taped 2005 conversation in which Trump bragged about groping women against their will, comments that sparked an exodus of support from prominent Republicans and calls for the GOP nominee to drop out.
The Speaker is still voting for Trump, but he told lawmakers he wouldn’t campaign with or defend Trump for the rest of the election. And on Thursday, it was clear his plan is to run his own campaign as the GOP standard-bearer, to offer a positive, issue-oriented vision of the Republican Party for voters turned off by the vitriol at the top of the ticket.
“This is the agenda we are running on in Congress, but you wouldn’t know about it would ya?” Ryan acknowledged.
He went on to instruct the crowd to “forget about the buzz of the day and forget about the, what twitter storm is going on in the last 20 minutes, last 5 minutes…this is who we are, this is what we believe, these are taking our principles — the ones that built this country — applying them to the problems of the day, offer solutions, win an election, get it done, save this country, go Packers!”