Tuesday, August 31, 2021


This happened yesterday:
JANESVILLE, Wis. — Former House Speaker Paul Ryan told WISN 12 News on Monday there should be no question that President Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election.

"President Trump lost the election. Joe Biden won the election," Ryan said to WISN 12 News reporter Kent Wainscott during a rare interview....

"It was not rigged. It was not stolen. Donald Trump lost the election. Joe Biden won the election. It's really clear," Ryan said.

"So the fact that we continue to have election audits?" Wainscott asked.

"He exhausted his cases," Ryan said. "He exhausted the court challenges. None of them went his way, so he legitimately lost. Is there mischief, organized shenanigans in elections? Sure. Is there fraud? Yes. Was it organized to the extent that it would have swung the Electoral College and the presidential election? Absolutely not," Ryan said.
Which makes me suspect that his fellow Wisconsinite wanted this to go viral:
Although Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) has reliably been one of former President Donald Trump's most ardent defenders when it comes to challenging the integrity of the 2020 election, he admitted in a secretly recorded video that Trump very likely lost his state fair and square.

A video posted on Twitter by Lauren Windsor, who describes herself as an "undercover reporter," shows Johnson delivering a breakdown of numbers in Wisconsin in which he says Trump could have won if tens of thousands of traditional Republican voters not left his name off their ballots.

"Collectively, the state assembly candidates, just Republican state assembly candidates, got [1.661 million] votes," Johnson explained. "The eight congressional candidates also got [1.661 million], so we obviously counted enough Republican votes. The only reason Trump lost Wisconsin is that 51,000 Republican voters didn't vote for him."

Windsor is a lefty who executive-produces a show on the Young Turks Network; her website includes praise from members of the left-wing media, but also from the late GOP megadonor Foster Friess (who said he admired her "intensity") and Tim Phillips of the Koch brothers network ("[She's] good... Absolutely, I'm impressed"). So she knows right-wingers. Could this have been slipped to her (directly or indirectly) by Johnson's own staff, or someone else connected to the Wisconsin GOP?

There are many true Trump believers in the GOP, but I think a large segment of the party sees Trump as a liability and would like to move on. It's safe for Ryan to express this sentiment openly -- he's out of office and not gearing up to run for anything again. Johnson is being more circumspect. But I txhink he might have wanted this to be heard.


UPDATE: And now we learn that Johnson is calling for an election audit in Wisconsin. So I guess he had to cover his (far-)right flank. But he still might want both messages out there. It's 2021. Given the balkanized news landscape, saying mutually exclusive things is a lot less harmful to a politician than it used to be, if one side believes one statement and the other side believes the other. He can probably persuade the crazies that the hot mic moment was fake news -- and he can probably persuade the mainstream media that he's not part of the Trumpist problem.

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