Paul Ryan is trying to run “Trump damage control” for the Republicans in Silicon Valley, according to Politico.
The Speaker of the House, long seen as one of the leading Trump-sceptics in the Republican party, spent last week on the West Coast, conducting fundraisers with a number of Silicon Valley CEOs.
These included Apple CEO Tim Cook, venture capitalist Joe Lonsdale, former HP executive Russ Johnson, and Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman. The Speaker also paid a visit to the headquarters of Dropbox, where according to Politico he held a Q&A session with employees.
The speaker’s main objective is to raise funds for the Republicans in their bid to keep control of the Senate and House of Representatives this year. But according to Politico, he has a problem — Donald Trump.
A source at one of the fundraising events told Politico that the Speaker is trying to “juxtaposition with Trump,” who is not popular in the tech industry, even among Republicans like HP CEO Meg Whitman.
HP, along with Apple and Microsoft is among the big-name companies that have declined to support the Republican convention in Cleveland, Ohio next month due to Trump’s comments about women, minorities, and immigrants.
Whitman has previously attacked the Speaker over his half-hearted endorsement of Trump, and reportedly compared the presumptive Republican nominee to Mussolini and Hitler.
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich was forced to cancel a planned fundraiser with Trump last month and emphasisize his non-support for the candidate after details of the meeting leaked, leading to media pressure. And analysis from Crowdpac, which monitors political donations, found that Trump has received only 52 out of 35,233 donations from the tech industry to the presidential campaigns.
Paul Ryan is ready to admit that support from Silicon Valley for Republicans is lower this year than in previous cycles. In a statement to Politico, the executive director of Team Ryan said “While overall giving from individuals in Silicon Valley to Republicans may be lower than in past cycles, Speaker Ryan continues to see robust support and he is extremely grateful to those who believe in the pro-growth policies he and House Republicans are advancing.”
The statement doesn’t explicitly mention the reason for the lack of donations from big tech, but the emphasis on “House Republicans” rather than the presidential candidate leaves little doubt as to Ryan’s intentions. He wants Silicon Valley executives to ignore Trump and instead back House Republicans and candidates in their election and re-election fights this year.
But Ryan has an uphill struggle. Politico quotes new numbers from Crowdpac which show that the Republican National Committee has received just $79,000 in donations from Silicon Valley donors as of May this year, compared to over $200,000 at the same point in 2012.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump continues to criticize tech leaders. He’s attacked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over his support for H1B immigration visas, he’s called for a boycott of Apple products over the company’s refusal to decrypt iPhones belonging to the San Bernardino terrorists, and he’s taken repeated rhetorical swipes at Amazon CEO and prominent Hillary Clinton supporter Jeff Bezos.
Unfortunately for Paul Ryan, it looks like Trump is going to continue speaking his mind.