Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin Sunday vowed to help defeat House Speaker Paul Ryan for withholding his support for GOP presumptive presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Palin, Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s running mate in 2008, said she wants Ryan, R-Wis., to meet the same fate that former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., did in 2014 when he lost his primary contest to tea party challenger Dave Brat.
“I think Paul Ryan is soon to be ‘Cantored,’ as in Eric Cantor,” Palin said on CNN’s State of the Union with Jake Tapper. “His political career is over but for a miracle because he so disrespected the will of the people, and as the leader of the GOP convention, certainly he is to remain neutral, and for him to already come out and say who he will not support is not a wise decision of his.”
Last week, Ryan said that he’s not ready yet to support Trump, whose path to the Republican nomination became almost assured after Cruz, and Kasich dropped out of the race following Trump’s dominating victory in the Indiana primary.
Ryan, appearing last week on CNN’s “The Lead,” said “I’m not there right now” when it comes to backing Trump. He added that the bombastic New York billionaire needs to unify “all wings of the Republican Party and the conservative movement” for Americans to “have something that they’re proud to support and be a part of.”
Trump and Ryan are scheduled to meet in Washington Thursday in an attempt to resolve their differences. Trump, in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday said he was “blindsided” by Ryan’s comments.
“But I have a nice relationship with him,” Trump said of Ryan. “And then all of a sudden, he gets on and he does this number. So I’m not exactly sure what he has in mind. But that’s okay.”
It’s apparently not okay with Palin. The former Alaska governor said she’ll “do whatever I can” to help Paul Nehlen, Ryan’s Republican primary challenger, defeat the speaker in August.
Nehlen said in a statement Friday that “If Mr. Trump is the nominee, I will support that decision, because it will have been the will of the voters that got him there.”
Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll, said Sunday that he doubts that Palin has enough influence in Wisconsin to tilt a primary toward Nehlen.
“It would be an uphill battle,” Franklin said. “It’s not clear at all if Sarah Palin carries much weight with voters in the state.”
Contrary to Palin’s assertion about the will of the people, Republicans in Wisconsin actually preferred Sen. Ted Cruz R-Texas, over Trump. Cruz carried the state in last month’s primary, and handily beat Trump in the 1st Congressional district, 50.7 percent to 32.2 percent. Gov. Kasich of Ohio got 14.6 percent of the vote there.
Also, Ryan easily won re-election in 2014, capturing 63.27 percent of the vote while Democratic challenger Rob Zerban (D) received 43.39 percent.
Ryan appears to be well-funded to combat a primary and general election challenge in 2016. He has more than $7.6 million in cash on hand, the Center for Responsive Politics’ opensecrets.org reported based on campaign filings.
“This is not the year to take anything for granted and there are some outside groups getting involved,” Franklin said. “But nobody is going to outspend or out-work Paul Ryan.”
This version corrects that Cruz win Wisconsin.