House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Saturday completely sidestepped the release of a bombshell video of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump making graphic comments about women, not even mentioning the nominee by name at a Wisconsin GOP rally that Trump was initially scheduled to attend.
“Let me start off by saying there is a bit of an elephant in the room, and it is a troubling situation,” Ryan said. “I put out a statement about this last night. I meant what I said, and it’s still how I feel.”
The House speaker, who has repeatedly stood by Trump’s candidacy while also condemning him, quickly pivoted to his usual focus on policy and “conservative principles,” but promised to help “deliver Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes” for the party.
On Friday, Ryan forcefully condemned Trump’s lewd remarks ― but continued to endorse him for president.
“I am sickened by what I heard today,” he said in a statement. “Women are to be championed and revered, not objectified. I hope Mr. Trump treats this situation with the seriousness it deserves and works to demonstrate to the country that he has greater respect for women than this clip suggests.”
The fallout from the video forced Trump to back out of his appearance with Ryan, Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), drawing the ire of Trump supporters.
Attendees of Saturday’s event hoping to see the nominee took their anger out on the speakers, booing them and shouting “Mention Trump!” and “Support Trump!”
The rally was expected to draw a large crowd, but according to the Wisconsin State Journal, many attendees left when they heard that neither Trump nor running mate, Gov. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), who was slated to replace Trump at the event, would be there.
Trump supporters in Nevada similarly pilloried Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.), who is running a close race to replace retiring Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
At a rally on Saturday morning, attendees drowned Heck out with boos when he announced he was rescinding his endorsement of Trump.
“I cannot, in good conscience, continue to support Donald Trump, nor can I vote for Hillary Clinton,” he said. “All Americans deserve better.”
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.