MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Former House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday that Republicans will lose the presidential election if Donald Trump is the nominee and that he expects hard-right followers of Trump to force a government shutdown within days.
Ryan, who left office in 2019 and had a sometimes contentious relationship with Trump, said he hoped that another Republican nominee would gain enough momentum early next year to overtake Trump after the first primaries. Ryan represented southeastern Wisconsin in Congress for 20 years, the last four as speaker.
“The party that puts the first fresh face forward wins this election,” Ryan said at an event on the University of Wisconsin campus organized by the Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs.
If the race is between Trump and President Joe Biden, Ryan said, “I think Biden wins.”
“I think leaders should endeavor to be honest, ethical, moral people who try to set standards for themselves and lead by example across the country,” Ryan said. “Donald Trump doesn’t try to do any of that. He does the opposite, frankly. So I just don’t think he’s fit for the job here.”
Ryan said in the small number of swing states, including Wisconsin, the election will come down to winning over suburban voters.
“Do you think those suburban voters like Donald Trump more since Jan. 6?” Ryan said. “I mean, good grief. They didn’t vote for him this last time, they’re not going to vote for him again.”
Ryan also had harsh words about Trump’s followers in Congress, who he said were not interested in governing or finding a solution to avoid a government shutdown.
But with just five days to go before Saturday’s government shutdown deadline, the Senate is trying to stave off a federal closure as hard-right lawmakers seize control of the House. Senators unveiled a bipartisan stopgap measure to keep offices funded temporarily, through Nov. 17, to buy time for Congress to finish its work.
Ryan was speaker of the House during the last government shutdown in 2018, which lasted a record-long 36 days.
“There are a bunch of people who I think feel this is in their interest,” Ryan said of a shutdown. “So I fear that is going to happen.”
Ryan faulted Republicans in Congress for not proposing an alternative.
“It’s nihilism, is what it is,” he said. “We look like fools. We look like we can’t govern.”