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Former US House Speaker blasts Trump, says GOP is “at a crossroads”

Former US House Speaker Paul Ryan, who retired from Congress in 2018, shared strained relationship with Trump during his presidency. (Photo by AP)

Former US House Speaker Paul Ryan has blasted the former US President Donald Trump and his grip over the Republican Party, warning the GOP about drifting from the “core principles of conservatism.”

In a speech Thursday night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, Ryan said the Republican Party needs to focus on “principles” rather than individuals.

The senior Republican figure and an avowed critic of the former US President, Ryan urged Republicans to move away from the “populist appeal of one personality” as it will “not take them anywhere.”

“Once again, we conservatives find ourselves at a crossroads,” said the Wisconsin Republican and onetime VP candidate. “And here's the reality that we have to face: If the conservative cause depends on the populist appeal of one personality, or of second-rate imitations, then we're not going anywhere,”  

He said no party should “revolve around a single person,” referring to Trump and his hold over GOP.

Ryan has joined a growing league of Republicans who have come out in recent months, since the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol, to denounce Trump’s politics and his control over the party.

The senior Republican also lashed out at Trump’s successor, President Joe Biden, claiming he is “pursuing an agenda more leftist than any president in my lifetime.”

“In 2020, the country wanted a nice guy who would move to the center and depolarize our politics. Instead, we got a nice guy pursuing an agenda more leftist than any president in my lifetime. These policies might have the full approval of his progressive supporters, but they break faith with the middle-of-the-road folks who made the difference for him on Election Day,” he said.

Ryan, who decided to retire from Congress in 2018 and has since maintained a relatively low profile, shared strained relationship with Trump during his presidency, often engaging in clashes.

As House speaker, Ryan had earned a coveted place in the GOP, even becoming Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate in 2012, before he decided to retire.

He is not the first Republican who has criticized the party leadership for its overwhelming backing of the former US President, whose tenure saw the GOP’s popularity plummeting astonishingly. 

Trump’s hold on the party has been evident from the eviction of Liz Cheney from the House Republican leadership and other GOP lawmakers who continue to challenge the outcome of last year's election to downplaying the threat of the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Joe Walsh, a former Republican congressman who quit the party last year over Trump-related controversies, said its future consists of “older white men and older white women espousing victim hood, nationalism, protectionism, conspiracies, lies, and intolerance,” which he termed “Trumpism”.

Trump continues to make false claims about alleged “voter fraud,” blaming it for his loss to Democrats.

He has been threatening the ten House Republicans who voted to impeach him over the events of Jan. 6, which left five people dead.

Cheney, who lost her job in House GOP leadership after her blistering criticism of Trump, tops the black list. Cheney has said the party needs to move away from Trump and his lies about the election.

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