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Speaker won't defend Trump, focuses on saving GOP majority

Speaker won't defend Trump, focuses on saving GOP majorityā€¯

But other more moderate members, such as Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent, said he thought Trump should step aside and predicted that more damaging information could still come out in the next 29 days.

Ryan has been a frequent critic of Trump, who has never previously run for office.

Trump's opponent Hillary Clinton quickly tweeted that Wisconsin Republican Ryan is still endorsing Trump.

House Speaker Paul Ryan is all but conceding Hillary Clinton will be the next president. But pro-Trump GOP House members got that impression, pushing back and saying Trump can still prevail and should not be abandoned.

Other Wisconsin Republicans, including leaders in the state Legislature, were also silent.

"The speaker is going to spend the next month focused entirely on protecting our congressional majorities", Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said in a statement, confirming what was being reported about the conference call.

"Paul Ryan should spend more time on balancing the budget, jobs and illegal immigration and not waste his time on fighting Republican nominee", Trump said.

Trump has been reeling following the release last week of the tape from 2005, in which he boasts about a failed attempt to seduce a married woman.

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Several members pushed back on Ryan, angry with him and arguing that House Republicans should be supporting Trump and working to get a Republican in the White House.

One person involved in the call says Ryan has not withdrawn his support for Trump, but has said he won't defend him, either.

Almost half of all 332 incumbent Republican senators, congress members and governors have condemned his remarks about women and roughly 1 in 10 have called on him to drop out of the race, according to a Reuters review of official statements and local news coverage.

Ryan did not, however, revoke his endorsement of Trump in the wake of an explosive recording of Trump making sexually aggressive comments about women. The reason that the Friday and Saturday GOP defections followed by a non-fatal Trump performance on Sunday is so damaging to the party is because down-ticket Republicans showed themselves to, momentarily, have souls (or, at least, a political survival instinct that forced them to fake a soul). He declared the Democratic nominee had "tremendous hate in her heart".

"Anything to avoid talking about your campaign and the way it's exploding", Clinton countered.

A top Pence aide confirmed Monday morning that the IN governor's tweet means he plans to stick with Trump through the election, a little less than a month away.

Pence said Monday on Fox News that moderator Martha Raddatz mischaracterized his position.

During the debate at Washington University in St. Louis, the GOP nominee apologized for the video comments while dismissing them as nothing more than "locker room talk".

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Ryan has had difficulty maintaining his reluctant support for Trump amid their different styles and ideas.

"That was a quip", Kellyanne Conway, Trump's campaign manager, said Monday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe".

With Democrats only needing a net gain of four seats (plus the tie-breaking vice-presidency, of course) to take control of the upper chamber, the odds of that happening have gone up significantly, and with it the likelihood that Clinton as president would be able to have her executive-branch and judicial appointments confirmed (including those to the Supreme Court, assuming, as one should, that Democrats will be willing to abolish the right to filibuster those nominations).

Mr Trump spent his time attacking, she said, "when he should have been apologising".

Then Trump turned to former President Bill Clinton, whom he called "far worse". He is a former leader in the House.

Last week, WikiLeaks made public potentially damaging revelations about Clinton's paid speeches to Wall Street firms.

WikiLeaks has published more than 2,000 new emails purportedly belonging to Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman.

AP writers Catherine Lucey and Erica Werner contributed.

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