Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, who was in Michigan on Monday in support of two congressional candidates, said he doesn't think a weekend New York Times article showing a $916-million business loss in 1995 for Donald Trump will do much harm to his presidential candidacy.
The newspaper reported, based on partial Trump income tax returns it received from an anonymous source, that the loss could have resulted in Trump legally being able to avoid federal income taxes for 18 years.
"I don't think it's that harmful," said Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman who joined U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, to meet with journalists at Oakland County International Airport in Waterford in advance of a fund-raising event.
"I think people who don't like him are going to continue disliking him," Ryan said of Trump. The speaker also said he didn't think the article hurts Trump's reputation as a great businessman.
Ryan said using net operating losses for tax purposes are common, particularly in real estate ventures, and "the numbers are big because he's a multi-billionaire."
Ryan did describe the 2016 campaign as an "extra challenge," and said "this isn't just Donald Trump," but the way social media has changed popular culture and political campaigns.
Earlier this year, Ryan gave Trump a tepid endorsement, and Trump initially balked at endorsing Ryan in his congressional contest.
Ryan praised Bishop, a former Michigan Senate majority leader who has served one term in Congress, as "a workhorse and one of our stars in our conference."
Bishop is facing a challenge from Democrat Suzanne Shkreli, an assistant Macomb County prosecutor from Clarkston.
Bishop, like Ryan, said Trump would be "a willing partner" for a Republican Congress, while "Hillary Clinton would not be."
Earlier Monday, Ryan stumped in the Traverse City area for Republican candidate Jack Bergman, who faces Democrat Lon Johnson in an open seat in Michigan's 1st Congressional District, which encompasses the Upper Peninsula and a large swath of the northern Lower Peninsula.
Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @paulegan4.