House Speaker Paul Ryan Thursday emailed an urgent appeal seeking funds to help Republicans maintain their control of Congress to prevent from "handing President Hillary Clinton a blank check."
"Ninety-six days," the email read, according to The Washington Post. "That’s all the time we have left before Americans head to the polls on Election Day, and much more is at stake than the presidency.
"If we fail to protect our majority in Congress, we could be handing President Hillary Clinton a blank check," Ryan said.
The Post noted that the words "blank check" appeared in the Wisconsin congressman's appeal at least three times and that the words harken from Kansas Sen. Bob Dole's losing bid for the White House in 1996 — and possibly inferring Donald Trump.
The phrase "suggests a deep fear by congressional Republicans that a sinking presidential candidate could take their majorities in the House and Senate with him, and that they are getting ready to desert him," the Post reports.
Leading up to the election, Republicans realized that Dole would lose to President Bill Clinton, who was seeking his second term, officials took to a new argument to support their candidate: "Let’s not give Clinton a blank check."
The National Republican Congressional Committee then spent $4 million on television ads in 50 congressional districts where races were close that October, the Post reports.
Those spots ended with a picture of a blank check hovering over the U.S. Capitol in Washington — with signature "American taxpayer."
"For Dole, the implication that even his own party had given up on him was a devastating blow," according to the report, which noted that several of the senator's former staffers now work for Trump.
They include Paul Manafort, who now is Trump’s campaign chairman, and Michael Glassner, a campaign staffer for more than a year.
Ryan's appeal came as several polls Thursday showed Clinton leading the Republican nominee — by as much as 15 points in the McClatchy-Marist survey — and after Trump refused to endorse the speaker in his re-election primary race on Tuesday.
The communication, which seeks contributions ranging from $25 to $100, was signed "Speaker Paul Ryan."
It also included a P.S.: "We cannot afford to give Hillary Clinton a blank check if she’s elected president. We need a strong, conservative majority in Congress as our last line of defense."
Ryan also used the words "blank check" in a radio interview Thursday in Green Bay, Wis.
When WTAQ host Jerry Bader asked Ryan whether he would abandon the endorsement he made of Trump in June, the speaker responded: "None of these things are ever blank checks."
However, Katie Martin, a spokeswoman for the congressional committee, slammed the Dole comparison made by the Post.
"There is no news here, nothing to read into, no secret message about the upcoming elections," she said. "The possibility of giving Hillary Clinton a Congress led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi would be an unmitigated disaster for the American people — as it was eight years ago with President [Barack] Obama."
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