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Former House Speaker Paul Ryan to campaign for incumbent Tom Rice in Florence

Tom Rice (copy)

Congressman Tom Rice tours Canipes Candy Citchen in Horry County during his re-election kickoff on Nov. 8, 2021 in Longs. File/Staff

COLUMBIA — Former House Speaker Paul Ryan will travel to Florence to campaign for U.S. Rep. Tom Rice who faces a crowded GOP primary challenge after breaking party ranks to impeach former President Donald Trump last year. 

The Rice campaign announced the Wisconsin Republican and onetime vice presidential candidate will speak at a campaign luncheon for the incumbent at the Hotel Florence on June 1 to build momentum ahead of the June 14 primary. 

Ryan will then attend a business roundtable with Rice and members of the local business community at 2:30 p.m. at the Senator Leatherman Assembly Hall, located at 201 W. Evans St. in Florence.

“Tom Rice is a man of principle, a man of conviction and a leader who always puts South Carolina’s interests first," Ryan said in a statement. "He is a legislative workhorse with a long track record of supporting policies that grow the economy, rein in out-of-control spending and expand opportunities for families and businesses."

Rice faces multiple challengers in the race including physician Garrett Barton, insurance agent Barbara Arthur, former Horry County School Board chairman Ken Richardson and Trump-endorsed candidate Russell Fry, the majority whip in the S.C. House of Representatives. 

Ryan, who began his tenure in leadership as a reluctant supporter of Trump, has since found himself among the ranks of Republicans seeking to undermine his influence in the 2022 midterms. Ryan, like Rice, has been openly critical of the former president for his continued insistence the 2020 election was systematically rigged against him. The result has been a barrage of attacks by the onetime commander-in-chief.

"As a Republican, having Paul Ryan on your side almost guarantees a loss, for both you, the Party, and America itself!" Trump said in May 2021.

Rice and Ryan have a long relationship that was in place well before Rice took Ryan's seat on the House Ways and Means Committee in 2015, when Ryan became the committee's chair. In the lead-up to Ryan's White House bid with Mitt Romney, the Wisconsin Republican was a significant donor to one of Rice's early campaigns, with Rice a recipient of a share of $65,000 in donations through his leadership PAC. 

The duo also worked closely together to pass the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, one of Ryan's most significant accomplishments as speaker.

Ryan's tenure in leadership was marked as a disappointment among some conservatives over his failures to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and reduce social spending on programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, resulting in a ballooning of the national debt and the retaking of the House by Democrats in the 2018 midterms.

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Contact Nick Reynolds at 843-834-4267. Follow him on Twitter @IAmNickReynolds.