House Speaker Paul Ryan crushed his insurgent challenger in their Tuesday primary, multiple outlets report.
Ryan topped Wisconsin businessman Paul Nehlen by an 85% to 15% split.
Although polling showed the House speaker never faced much of a threat from Nehlen, the race was brought to the forefront after Republican nominee Donald Trump praised Nehlen on Twitter for defending him on a presidential campaign controversy.
Trump later said he was not ready to endorse Ryan in an interview with The Washington Post. The real-estate magnate later relented, endorsing Ryan last Friday.
But Nehlen also received the backing of big names in the conservative sphere of influence, such as author and commentator Ann Coulter and former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. The news site often linked to the “alt-right” movement, Breitbart, provided glowing coverage of Nehlen throughout the primary, often ignoring the polling data that showed his near-certain defeat.
During an interview with Business Insider last week, Nehlen called Ryan a “soulless globalist,” yet expressed scepticism that Trump’s praise would lead to his victory. Nehlen also characterised Ryan as “the most open-borders, anti-worker, pro-Wall Street member of Congress on either side.”
“Paul Ryan is a soulless globalist, and he would send our jobs overseas in a heartbeat if it meant more money in his campaign coffers,” he said.
Ryan portrayed his primary opponent as out of line with the broader conservative movement. Speaking to Wisconsin radio host Charlie Sykes last Friday, Ryan was asked to respond to comments Nehlen made to a Chicago radio station questioning why the US has “Muslims in the country.”
While calling them “dark, grim,” and “indefensible,” Ryan ripped the “alt-right” platform that propped up Nehlen’s candidacy, saying it “isn’t even conservatism.”
“Look, I hate to even give such comments currency by even talking about them,” Ryan said of Nehlen’s remark. “This is not the US Constitution. This is not the US Bill of Rights. Let’s just be really clear about this.”
“This is not Wisconsin conservatism,” he continued. “That kind of dark, grim, indefensible comments are going to be clearly rejected and repudiated on Tuesday. I have a hard time seeing the thinking behind this. Unfortunately, we see some of it these days.”
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