Paul Ryan Says He Won't Defend Donald Trump

(NBC NEWS) -- Hours after a contentious second presidential debate, House Speaker Paul Ryan told Republicans Monday he will not be defending Donald Trump or campaign with him for the next 30 days and instead will focus on down ballot races.

The move comes as GOP leaders have not only distanced themselves from the Republican nominee following a leaked 2005 tape of Trump bragging about assaulting women, but have also rescinded their endorsements.

"You all need to do what's best for you in your district," Ryan said on a call with House Republicans.

Ryan said this was about the members of the party, not himself, according to a source on the call.

"The speaker is going to spend the next month focused entirely on protecting our congressional majorities," Ryan spokesperson AshLee Strong said.

A flood of Republicans broke from Trump in the aftermath of the leaked video, including Sens. John McCain and Kelly Ayotte. Trump's vice presidential pick Mike Pence said he was "offended by the words" and "cannot defend them." Fifty Republicans have demanded he drop out or said they won't vote for him, according to NBC News' count.

Ryan previously reacted to the comments by saying he was "sickened."

An "Access Hollywood" video tape from 2005 released Friday afternoon showed Trump boasting about a failed attempt to seduce a married woman and talks about kissing and groping women without their consent. Trump is heard in the video saying, "when you're a star, they let you do it."

NBC NEWS


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