Former House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., said Republicans should have “done better” in Tuesday’s midterm elections, calling former President Trump a “drag on our ticket” that contributed to the party’s disappointing results.
While interviewed from his home in Janesville, Wisconsin by local station WISN 12 News on Wednesday, Ryan said he was happy to see Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ landslide re-election victory and that Republicans would have to reflect on why that dominant performance did not materialize elsewhere.
“I think we’re going to have to do a lot of soul-searching and head scratching, looking through and parsing the numbers as to why we didn’t perform as well as we would have liked to,” Ryan said. “Ron got re-elected, I’m very happy to see that. It was a mixed blessing night, but we should have done better than we did.”
While DeSantis cruised to a nearly 20-point victory over Democratic nominee Charlie Crist and reshaped Florida’s political landscape with his coattails, GOP candidates in other key races ran much closer to Democrats, and in some cases, lost their races.
Trump-endorsed Republican nominees Mehmet Oz and Doug Mastriano lost their respective races for U.S. Senate and governor in Pennsylvania; Don Bolduc failed to unseat Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.; Herschel Walker is headed to a runoff against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in Georgia; and Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and Senate nominee Blake Masters are trailing their Democratic opponents as votes are still being counted.
Democrats spent more than $40 million boosting six pro-Trump GOP candidates in key House and Senate races, all of whom went on to lose their races. Ryan said Trump’s toxicity with voters was a reason why the GOP failed to win those contests and may not win a large House majority or retake the Senate.
“I think Trump’s kind of a drag on our ticket,” Ryan said. “I think Donald Trump gives us problems, politically. We lost the House, the Senate and the White House in two years when Trump was on the ballot, or in office.”
“I think we just have some Trump hangover. I think he’s a drag on our office, on our races,” he added.
When asked what would happen if Trump runs for president again, Ryan repeated his previous prediction that someone else will be the 2024 GOP nominee.
Republicans “want to win,” Ryan told News 12. “We want to win the White House and we know with Trump we’re so much more likely to lose. Just look at the difference between votes, between Trump candidates and non-Trump aligned candidates.”
“It’s really clear to me and the evidence is pretty stark that if we have a nominee not named Trump, we’re so much more likely to win the White House than if our candidate’s named Trump,” he continued.
“We have to offer the country a better way forward. I think we have to offer the country solutions,” Ryan said. “We have to offer the country a really clear and compelling choice as to how our party is ripe and ready to solve big problems confronting the country and that we’re putting leaders forward that people can vote for that they want to vote for.”