Former House Speaker Paul Ryan campaigned for a pro-impeachment Republican who has called Trump a 'would-be tyrant'

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan campaigned for a pro-impeachment Republican who has called Trump a 'would-be tyrant'
Former House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin of Republican Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina.Mark Wilson/Getty Images and Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images
  • Paul Ryan campaigned on Wednesday with Tom Rice, an endangered pro-impeachment Republican.
  • The former House Speaker had a strained relationship with Trump and retired after the 2018 midterms.

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan traveled to South Carolina on Wednesday to campaign for Republican Rep. Tom Rice, who faces a Trump-backed primary challenger after voting to impeach the former president for incitement of an insurrection.

"You have with you a congressman who is at this key juncture on this key committee, with this wealth of knowledge representing your interests," said Ryan at a roundtable with local business leaders, according to The Post and Courier. "So I'm just here to say 'thank you for sending this man to Congress.'"

Rice, one of ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump for his role in the January 6, 2001 attack on the US Capitol, faces a primary challenge from South Carolina State Rep. Russell Fry.

Since voting to impeach, Rice has remained vocal in his condemnation of Trump's actions surrounding the Capitol siege, comparing the former president to a dictator in a May 2021 interview with the Washington Post.

"If the president, by force, can intimidate Congress into voting their way, then we might as well do away with Congress and hand it over to a king," Rice said. "What he did in my mind is what dictators do."


And in March, following a rally in South Carolina where Trump criticized Rice, the Republican congressman released a statement lambasting both Trump and Fry.

"If you want a Congressman who supports political violence in Ukraine or in the United States Capitol, who supports party over country, who supports a would-be tyrant over the Constitution, and who makes decisions based solely on re-election, then Russell Fry is your candidate," he said.

For Ryan, it's not the first time he's supported a Republican who voted to impeach Trump — he's also held fundraisers for Republican Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, both of whom serve on the select committee investigating the January 6 attacks.

"There are workhorses in Congress and there are show horses in Congress," Ryan told reporters in South Carolina. "Law gets written by workhorses. Differences are made by workhorses. Tom Rice is a workhorse. That to me is what matters, and so you want to support the people in Congress who actually do the work of solving people's problems."

But that puts him at odds with Trump, who's backing Fry.


"Congressman Tom Rice of South Carolina, the coward who abandoned his constituents by caving to Nancy Pelosi and the Radical Left, and who actually voted against me on Impeachment Hoax #2, must be thrown out of office ASAP," said Trump in a February statement announcing his support for Fry.

A Trafalgar Group poll released yesterday showed Fry leading the incumbent Rice by more than 17 points. Asked by reporters about the poll results, Rice brushed it off.

"There's only one poll that matters, and that's on Election Day," he said. "I feel pretty comfortable."

Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, served as Speaker of the House from 2015 until his retirement in 2019. While working with Trump to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2021, the two often clashed, with Ryan frequently called upon to denounce the former president's conduct.

Over the weekend, Ryan said on CNBC's "Squawk Box" that too many lawmakers in Congress are casting aside policy-making in order to be "entertainers" on social media.