Donald Trump in 2016

Paul Ryan was Speaker of the House when Donald Trump took office as POTUS, and the two men tolerated each other, even if Ryan never went full MAGA and Trump only tolerates anybody for so long. When Ryan left Congress he secured a seat on the board of Rupert Murdoch‘s Fox Corporation, where he has had input — though not veto power — over the content viewers see at Fox News.

Donald Trump is, of course, in a nasty feud with his former political ally Fox News, and Trump’s recent attacks on Ryan — whom he calls a “loser” — call for Ryan to resign from Fox, which Trump says Ryan is “destroying.”

[Note: Fox is rumored to be favoring Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. As a result, Trump has been ripping Fox as disloyal and “fake news,” favoring right-leaning outlets like NewsMax, which deliver Trump the kind of coverage he appreciates.]

But the real reason many campaign watchers believe Trump is going after Ryan isn’t about Fox — though he’d certainly love to see Ryan quit. The real reason is to paint Ryan as horribly weak — so that as Trump continually links rival DeSantis to Ryan, DeSantis will look weak by association.

It’s a tear-down strategy that appeals to the MAGA electorate. And in this case Trump knows he’ll get help from an unlikely source as he tries to weaken DeSantis through the Ryan association: Democrats have done the same thing.

In 2012, when Ryan was establishment Republican Mitt Romney‘s GOP running mate, Florida Democrats laid the groundwork for Trump’s current anti-DeSantis strategy.

“Ron DeSantis has already made it clear that he supports the same policies of Paul Ryan which would hurt Florida’s middle class families and end Medicare as we know it,” Florida Democratic spokesman David Bergstein said at the time. The issue — changes to Medicare and possibly Social Security — are still hot-button issues today.

Trump plans to trumpet DeSantis’s support of Ryan’s plan 11 years ago, linking DeSantis to very unpopular changes and to Democrats.

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The Real Reason Trump Is Attacking Paul Ryan, Former Speaker of The House

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