Paul Ryan won't defend or campaign for Trump ahead of election

WASHINGTON - House Speaker Paul Ryan will not campaign with or defend Donald Trump through the November election, according to a knowledgeable source who participated in a phone call with House GOP lawmakers on Monday morning.

The speaker canceled an appearance with his party's presidential nominee over the weekend after a 2005 videotape surfaced of Trump making lewd comments about women. He said he was "disgusted" by the comments, but did not at that time withdraw his support for Trump.

The speaker, who has pledged to vote for Trump, did not address whether he would revoke his official endorsement, said a second source present on the call. The tone of that call, added that source, was "nervous."

House Republican leadership convened a conference call with his members the morning after the second presidential debate. In it, the speaker said, he is "only campaigning for House seats and not going to promote or defend Trump, according to a GOP lawmaker.

The speaker said, the source on the phone call explained, that he will only focus on defending the House. Republicans are becoming increasingly worried about retaining their 30-seat House majority as Trump lags behind Hillary Clinton in the polls in the wake of a variety of controversies.

The House GOP call was an opportunity for members to check in after a chaotic weekend where dozens of GOP lawmakers revoked their support for Trump after the release of a 11-year-old recording of Trump using graphic language to describe kissing and groping women against their will. Lawmakers spent the weekend fielding a barrage of questions about their support for Trump without any formal guidance from party leaders.

Ryan typically holds weekly sessions for his members, referring to the confabs as "family meetings" where members are invited to speak their minds. The meetings have become a mainstay for a House GOP that has been plagued by infighting and crisis for more than a year.

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