SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mitt Romney defended his 2012 presidential running mate, former U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, after President Donald Trump called him a "baby" and a "terrible speaker" on Friday.
Trump unloaded on Ryan on Twitter late Thursday and to reporters Friday morning just before heading to Ryan's home state of Wisconsin, a pivotal state in the president's reelection bid. He called the retired Republican congressman's record "atrocious" in response to unflattering comments Ryan made about Trump in a new book.
"Paul Ryan, the failed V.P. candidate & former Speaker of the House, whose record of achievement was atrocious (except during my first two years as President), ultimately became a long running lame duck failure, leaving his Party in the lurch both as a fundraiser & leader," Trump tweeted.
Romney, R-Utah, came to Ryan's defense on Twitter on Friday morning.
"The fault for our 2012 loss is mine alone; @SpeakerRyan was a tireless campaigner, fundraiser, and conservative champion. As the sole person who could unite the House, he acquiesced to be Speaker as a service to the country," Romney wrote.
"His selfless leadership and lifelong policy work were critical to the tax and regulatory reform that have helped propel the economy. A man like Paul Ryan does not often come along."
Ryan, who suggested Romney would be a moral force for the GOP in Congress shortly after his election last November, attended Romney's annual policy and politics summit in Park City last month.
Politico's Tim Alberta wrote in his new book, "American Carnage," that Ryan left Congress in January because he couldn't stand the idea of another two years with Trump and saw retirement as an "escape hatch," according to a story in the Washington Post, which obtained a copy of the book.
Ryan said in the book that Trump “didn’t know anything about government” and that he wanted to “scold him all the time.”
“We’ve gotten so numbed by it all,” Ryan said in the book, according to Politico. “Not in government, but where we live our lives, we have a responsibility to try and rebuild. Don’t call a woman a ‘horse face.’ Don’t cheat on your wife. Don’t cheat on anything. Be a good person. Set a good example.”
Trump told reporters on Friday that "the only success Paul Ryan had was the time that he was with me.”
“He was a baby,” Trump said. “He didn’t know what the hell he was doing.”
In another tweet, the president wrote: "He had the Majority & blew it away with his poor leadership and bad timing. Never knew how to go after the Dems like they go after us. Couldn't get him out of Congress fast enough!"