MILWAUKEE - House Speaker Paul Ryan said Saturday that he thought President Donald Trump would be an asset to GOP candidates this fall in states like Wisconsin that he narrowly won, even as he warned fellow Republicans that a "blue wave" could wipe out advancements made during his presidency.
Ryan addressed about 600 people at the Wisconsin Republican convention, his final one after 20 years in office. The state's entire GOP congressional delegation, along with Governor Scott Walker, honored Ryan, who received a standing ovation and chant from the audience of "Thank you, Paul!"
Ryan told delegates he was surprised on election night in 2016 when it became clear Trump was going to win Wisconsin — the first Republican to carry the state since 1984. Trump won by less than 1 percentage point.
Ryan told reporters later he didn't think controversies surrounding Trump were resonating with voters in states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
"The president is strong in these states," Ryan said. "He's an asset. ... Whether I'm running around southern Wisconsin or America, nobody is talking about Stormy Daniels. Nobody is talking about Russia. They're talking about their lives and their problems. They're talking about their communities, they're talking about jobs, they're talking about the economy, they're talking about national security."
?'Ton' of accomplishments
Ryan defended his and the Republican record in Congress, including the tax overhaul law he championed, saying "we have gotten a ton of things done."
But he, like other Republicans speaking at the convention before him, warned it could all be quickly be undone.
"The blue wave, as they say it, they want to take it all away," Ryan cautioned.
He also reminisced about his career, telling reporters after his convention speech, "I never thought I'd be here in the first place. I wanted to be an economist."
Walker presented Ryan with a personalized Green Bay Packers jersey with a number "1" on the back. That is the number of Ryan's southeastern Wisconsin congressional district.
Ryan has not endorsed anyone in the race to replace him, saying he didn't know if he would. Candidates have until June 1 to file.