Trump aide warns supporters may ignore down-ballot races; GOP chief says he still backs Trump

WASHINGTON —  A Donald Trump spokeswoman warned Monday that the GOP nominee’s supporters could ignore down-ballot Republicans, regardless of whether it costs the party its congressional majorities.

Katrina Pierson’s comment came hours after House Speaker Paul Ryan said he’ll focus on protecting down-ballot Republicans rather than his party’s standard-bearer.

“I can’t keep my phone charged due to the mass volume of texts from people all over the country who will vote Trump, but down ballot, not so much,” Katrina Pierson tweeted.

The comments broke with conventional partisan strategy, where the candidate at the top of the ticket typically campaigns in support of candidates down-ballot. Part of a presidential nominee’s job has been to ensure his or her party wins seats in Congress so the party can enact its legislative agenda.

Meanwhile, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus reiterated his support Monday for Trump — telling members of the RNC that the operation stands fully behind his campaign.

“Nothing has changed in regard with our relationship,” Priebus said in a call with RNC committee members, according to sources on the call. “We are in full coordination with the Trump campaign. We have a great relationship with them. And we are going to continue to work together to make sure he wins in November.”

The move to present a united front with the Trump campaign comes after earlier Monday, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan told Republican members of the House he would no longer defend Trump, but did not formally rescind his endorsement.

Priebus convened the call with members on short notice over the weekend, and did not take any questions. His remarks lasted less than 14 minutes.

Before he distanced himself from Trump, Ryan explained this calculus was part of why he supported the Republican nominee. “I’m tired of divided government. It doesn’t work very well,” Ryan told CNN in September.