WASHINGTON ― Most people have never heard of Paul Nehlen, the Republican businessman trying to unseat House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis). But he got an unexpected boost this week from GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, and on Wednesday he tried to capitalize on the newfound attention by holding his first major press conference.
If only he’d had a lectern.
For about 10 minutes, Nehlen stood before TV cameras and accused Ryan of being “selfish” for not being more supportive of Trump ― all the while reading from a script that was held up in front of him by a guy on his campaign.
It was incredibly awkward. Nehlen didn’t know what to do with his hands at first, eventually grabbing onto the piece of paper too. That meant three hands were now holding up a paper script. Nehlen barely looked up as he read from it, and the staffer, standing with his other hand on his hip and wearing a Colorado baseball cap, stared at the ground, probably wishing he were invisible.
A Nehlen campaign spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on why the congressional candidate opted for a human lectern.
Nehlen is competing against Ryan in Tuesday’s open primary. Ryan has strong approval ratings in his district and has raised significantly more money than Nehlen ― Ryan reported raising $5.5 million in the last quarter, compared with Nehlen’s $489,000 ― but the underdog candidate dismissed a reporter’s question about polls putting Ryan way ahead.
“You are referring to a very old poll, sir,” Nehlen said. “I am well within striking distance of Speaker Ryan and he knows it.”
Watch the press conference below: