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Trump fires back at Paul Ryan: 'Curse to the Republican Party'

Former President TrumpDonald TrumpWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Poll: 30 percent of GOP voters believe Trump will 'likely' be reinstated this year Black Secret Service agent told Trump it was offensive to hold rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth: report MORE on Friday fired back at former House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanNow we know why Biden was afraid of a joint presser with Putin Zaid Jilani: Paul Ryan worried about culture war distracting from issues 'that really concern him' The Memo: Marjorie Taylor Greene exposes GOP establishment's lack of power MORE (R-Wis.) after a speech in which Ryan criticized Trump’s continued grip on the Republican Party.

In a statement issued through his leadership political action committee Save America, Trump hammered Ryan as a “RINO”  Republican in name only  and blamed him and Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyCentrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle The Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? China's genocide must be stopped MORE (R-Utah), the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee, for costing Republicans the White House nearly a decade ago.

Ryan was Romney's vice presidential nominee.

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“Paul Ryan has been a curse to the Republican Party,” Trump said. “He has no clue as to what needs to be done for our Country, was a weak and ineffective leader, and spends all of his time fighting Republicans as opposed to Democrats who are destroying our Country.”

Trump returned fire a day after Ryan delivered a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., warning of the political perils facing the Republican Party if it continues on its current trajectory. 

“If the conservative cause depends on the populist appeal of one personality, or on second-rate imitations, then we’re not going anywhere,” Ryan said in a clear reference to Trump.

During his speech, Ryan did not criticize Trump by name, although he left no doubts as to whom he was referring to. At one point, he said that GOP voters would “not be impressed by the sight of yes-men and flatterers flocking to Mar-a-Lago,” the former president’s private club in Palm Beach, Fla.

It wasn’t the first time Ryan has found himself at odds with Trump and his most ardent supporters. He was sharply critical of Republican efforts earlier this year to challenge President BidenJoe BidenObama: Ensuring democracy 'continues to work effectively' keeps me 'up at night' New Jersey landlords prohibited from asking potential tenants about criminal records Overnight Defense: Pentagon pulling some air defense assets from Middle East | Dems introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for discrimination | White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine MORE’s Electoral College victory, calling the objections “anti-democratic and anti-conservative.”

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Ryan’s latest remarks, however, come amid a fierce debate within the GOP over its direction in the post-Trump political environment. While most Republican officials and candidates continue to publicly align themselves with Trump, a vocal segment of the party has criticized that strategy, warning that fealty to the former president will cost the GOP long-term political success.

One such critic, Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyCheney: 'It is disgusting and despicable' to see Gosar 'lie' about Jan. 6 GOP's Stefanik defends Trump DOJ secret subpoenas McCarthy pushes back on Biden criticism of GOP at NATO MORE (R-Wyo.), was expelled from her role as the No. 3 House Republican this month for condemning Trump’s continued and baseless claim that the 2020 election had been stolen from him. 

Still, Trump and his allies have cast adherence to his conservative brand of populism as the GOP’s best chance at victory. In his statement on Friday, the former president warned that Ryan and those like him would only bring down the Republican Party.

“As a Republican, having Paul Ryan on your side almost guarantees a loss, for both you, the Party, and America itself,” he said.