Aug. 5, 2016 5:44pm Kaitlyn Schallhorn
Paul Nehlen used to support House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Now, not only does he want to take Ryan’s congressional seat, but also he refers to the Wisconsin Republican as “soulless,” a globalist, a lawbreaker and more politically in step with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton than the GOP’s own candidate.
“Paul Ryan is supposed to unify the party, and he’s not,” Nehlen told TheBlaze in an interview. “Paul Ryan is more aligned with Hillary Clinton than he is with Donald Trump, therefore it’s no surprise to me that he takes every opportunity to bash our nominee at every turn.”
Paul Nehlen, a Republican primary challenger to House Speaker Paul Ryan, accuses Ryan of betraying the party in an “act of sabotage” against presidential nominee Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Scott Bauer)
While Nehlen likely won’t win the primary election — he’s down nearly 50 percentage points to Ryan — he has drawn the attention of some of the more bombastic conservative firebrands, including commentator Ann Coulter and Republican presidential nominee Trump.
Like Trump, Nehlen is a businessman who supports tackling illegal immigration by building a wall along the country’s southernmost border, places emphasis on the importance of law and order and employs grandiose rhetoric when discussing policy positions. In a radio interview earlier this week, Nehlen contended that Muslims should be subjected to a religious test and those who appear to be compliant with Shariah law should be deported.
It’s no secret that Trump and Ryan clash, even though Ryan begrudgingly offered his endorsement once Trump officially became the Republican nominee, and it’s their differences that Nehlen is drawing upon. The businessman called Ryan’s criticisms of Trump a “repeated betrayal” that “is an act of sabotage against our party and an act of sabotage against our Republican electorate who selected Mr. Trump as our nominee.”
“I think [Wisconsin voters] are completely disturbed by it, that they can’t understand why Speaker Ryan would do this,” Nehlen said about Ryan’s criticisms of Trump. “The simple answer is: Paul Ryan is a Democrat from the ‘UniParty.’”
“Donald Trump and myself are largely running against people like Paul Ryan, people like Hillary Clinton. And I lump Paul Ryan and Hillary Clinton under the same basket because they are soulless globalists who only care about putting money in their campaign coffers or in their pockets and their insatiable lust for power,” Nehlen said. “Paul Ryan has no compunction about selling American jobs overseas. He has absolutely no care in the world about getting a bad trade deal pushed through.”
It was the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, Nehlen said, that changed his opinion of Ryan.
“I’ve been very successful in my life. I know trade, I lived overseas, I know how to do business,” Nehlen said. “Paul Ryan knows how to fundraise, and he knows how to smile at people in his district and knows what they want to hear, and he knows how to go back to Washington and tell them what they want to hear.”
“Paul Ryan has no soul when it comes to defending America, American principles [and] the rule of law for God’s sake,” he added.
“This race isn’t about me, and it isn’t about Donald Trump,” Nehlen said. “It’s about Paul Ryan’s policies. Paul Ryan is using identity politics to take a shot at Donald Trump every chance he gets, and that’s wrong.”
“We’re running separate races,” he continued. “If I have the opportunity to meet Mr. Trump, I’ll be happy to do that. I’m running a race here in Wisconsin’s 1st district, and I need to be in Wisconsin’s 1st district. I will never say never; the possibility exists that I will end up seeing Mr. Trump while he’s here, and if I do that will be fantastic. I would be honored to meet him. I think he’s run a great race. I think he’s working hard on behalf of Americans, and I think truly in his heart of hearts he wants to make America great again, and so do I.”
Ahead of the Aug. 9 primary, several former aides to Trump have been deployed to Wisconsin to help Nehlen’s campaign, multiple GOP strategists told TheBlaze. As Politico also reported , the former aides have not been sent from Trump’s presidential campaign.
Aside from Trump and Coulter, Nehlen has also garnered the support of conservative Phyllis Schlafly and former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.). But a source close to Ryan’s campaign said those endorsements do not phase him as Ryan “actually has the support of Wisconsinites” — a sentiment echoed by Ryan’s spokesman.
“Paul Ryan has always been focused on Wisconsin, and it shows with the wide range of local support he has received,” Zack Roday told TheBlaze. “His support comes from Wisconsinites. The same cannot be said of his opponent.”
Ryan has garnered the support of all of the Republican state legislators as well as the Republican sheriffs in Wisconsin. He is also endorsed by the Wisconsin Right to Life and National Right to Live anti-abortion groups as well as Wisconsin’s National Federation of Independent Business state director.