COSTA MESA (CBSLA.com) — House Speaker Paul Ryan told fellow GOP lawmakers Monday that he will not campaign for Donald Trump or defend him in the wake of Friday’s release of a 2005 audio recording showing the Republican presidential nominee making lewd sexual comments about women.
Pro-Trump Republicans, including Orange County Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, lashed out at the House speaker, calling him a coward and accusing him of conceding the election to Hillary Clinton.
“It was cleared to us that Paul Ryan felt that and probably still feels that Trump doesn’t have a chance to win,” said the Costa Mesa Republican. “I was disappointed because what I gathered from our leadership is they panicked.”
Rohrabacher said Hillary Clinton and her husband have done far worse, referring to allegations of sexual harassment and rape made by women against the former president.
“Donald Trump he’s not a perfect guy. He says grotesque things at time, but he’s a guy who’s a much better candidate for president,” said the Congressman who is running for his 14th term.
Ryan said he would devote his energy to ensuring Clinton doesn’t get a “blank check” as president with a Democratic-controlled Congress, according to people on his private conference call with GOP House members.
While the Wisconsin Republican did not formally withdraw his endorsement for Trump, he told lawmakers they were free to do just that and fight for their own re-election.
Trump fired back at Ryan on Twitter.