Congressman Greg Gianforte Salutes Retiring Speaker Paul Ryan

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But Democrats of that era were to the right of most modern Republicans on many issues. His decision fueled fresh doubts about the party's ability to fend off a Democratic wave, fed by opposition to Trump, in November.

With a midterm election looming and great uncertainty surrounding the balance of power in the House, there will be a great deal of analysis about the impact of Ryan leaving. I was meeting with President Trump last night at the White House with the rest of our leadership team and, frankly, we were talking about all the things we want to get done the rest of this year, building on the tax-cut bill that we passed that's having a tremendous positive impact on the economy.

His assessment that Republicans face losses this fall is rooted in historical precedent, as parties that hold the White House nearly always lose congressional seats. "When I look at that picture, Mr. Speaker, I have to say, I don't see anybody that looks like me in terms of color or gender", said King.

According to Axios, Republicans might not wait for November to give Ryan the boot and could instead choose a replacement speaker as soon as possible.

The speaker is by far the most prominent figure fleeing Congress in a long season of Republican retirements.

"Paul Ryan is really a symptom of a larger problem facing the GOP, which is that they have committed to an agenda and a coalition that is not a nationally viable coalition", said Williamson. But Ryan didn't bring up the Trump administration's minority problem all on his own.

Rep. Chris Stewart, likewise, has benefited from a relationship with Ryan, where Stewart gained value, built trust and has taken on important committee work. But Ryan ended up as a private adviser to the commander in chief, clearly frustrated at times but resigned to the fact that it was Trump who was president, and if he could only tune out some of the incessant noise, he could get things done.

Not only are donors making clear they are more skeptical of the effort to retain the House, but the sudden departure of Ryan suggests the Republican ideological tent will continue to shrink. His own father died suddenly of a heart attack when he was 16, and though Ryan is in good health, the distance from his family weighed on him. We made our decision a different way this year.

Ryan, from Janesville, Wisconsin, was first elected to Congress in 1998.

Ryan, who has had a hard relationship with Trump, thanked the president for giving him the chance to move the GOP ahead.

That's why exiting now, for Ryan, "could make flawless sense both politically and personally given the chaos and likely loss of the House and that he does not want to be the Nancy Pelosi of the Republicans", said Galen, referring to the Democratic lawmaker from California and former House speaker who did not vacate her seat prior to Republicans winning the majority in 2011, and has continued on since as minority leader. He has had more trust with the hardliners in the House. "His ability to bridge the vast divide".

McCarthy, the House majority leader, talked up the provocative spending cuts on Thursday. Ryan ran for the post after House Speaker John Boehner was ousted, under pressure from conservatives in his conference.

"Leadership has never been on my bucket list, and it's not on my bucket list today", he said.

Ryan's departure announcement has set off a battle for control of the House Republican Conference between Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

In Washington, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has worked with Ryan, praised his colleague's tenure. Trump could be heterodox in a thousand different ways, but he connected with the hearts of voters who wanted a Republican who would break with the legacies of the Bushes and Clintons, not merely administer the welfare-warfare state in a more business-friendly manner.

Another Republican mentioned as a potential candidate is longtime Ryan family friend and Ryan backer Bryan Steil, an attorney and member of the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents.

Democrat Randy Bryce, an ironworker who has cultivated the "IronStache" moniker, had been Ryan's best-known challenger, drawing liberal support from around the country.

Ryan said Wednesday that he would not seek re-election, and will retire at the end of the year.

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