Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday that Donald Trump’s stunning victory on Tuesday night played a key role in helping Republicans retain their House and Senate majorities.
“The House majority is bigger than expected,” the Wisconsin Republican told reporters in his home state. “We won more seats than anyone expected, and much of that is thanks to Donald Trump. Donald Trump provided the kind of coattails that got a lot of people over the finish line so we can maintain our strong House and Senate majorities.”
The conventional wisdom heading into Election Day was that Trump would be a drag on down-ballot Republicans. Ryan appeared to predict as much, giving House Republicans the green light to un-endorse Trump in October after the nominee was caught on video bragging about sexual assault. But on Wednesday morning, it was clear that Democrats’ gains in the House were limited to the single digits, and Republicans still had a slim majority in the Senate.
Ryan’s decision to no longer defend or campaign with Trump in October caused the real estate mogul to brand him as a “weak and ineffective” leader. But despite their rocky past, Ryan was effusive in his praise for Trump on Wednesday morning, and said he is ready to work with him on the House Republicans’ conservative agenda, known as “A Better Way.” On top of that agenda is repealing President Obama’s signature health law, the Affordable Care Act.
Ryan plans to run for another term as speaker in January. At this point, Trump hasn’t announced his support.
“[‘A Better Way’] will help us hit the ground running as we work with Donald Trump to do this,” Ryan said. “We will honor the timeless principles our nation was founded on: Liberty, freedom, free enterprise, consent of the governed and we will apply those principles to the problem of the day.”
Ryan also praised the conciliatory tone of Trump’s victory speech, in which he said he would work for all Americans after the most vitriolic presidential contest in modern American history.
“As we do every four years, we have work to heal the divisions of a long campaign,” Ryan said. “I think President-elect Donald Trump set the perfect tone last night for doing just this.”