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After Ryan suggested that the conservative movement was about more than fealty to the defeated president, Trump called the former House speaker a “RINO” and a loser. And then Trump, the rare Republican who has criticized Reagan himself, went after Fred Ryan, chair of the board of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.

“Ronald Reagan would not be happy to see that the Reagan Library is run by the head of the Washington Post, Fred Ryan,” Trump wrote. “How the hell did that happen? No wonder they consistently have RINO speakers like Karl Rove and Paul Ryan. They do nothing for our forward-surging Republican Party!”

One year ahead of the midterm elections, and with the earliest stages of the 2024 primary already underway, Trump is still backseat driving the Republican Party at every turn. And every sign suggests that the GOP is still with Trump — and has little interest in the kind of introspection that Ryan and traditionalists like him are begging for.

Even the Reagan Library’s “Time for Choosing” series — named for Reagan’s famous 1964 speech — is likely to come with a heavy dose of Trump-ism. Ryan will be followed by a set of speakers more sympathetic to the twice-impeached former president: Mike Pence, the former vice president; Mike Pompeo, the former secretary of state; Nikki Haley, the former U.N. ambassador; and Sens. Tim Scott of South Carolina and Tom Cotton of Arkansas. Aside from Ryan, all of them are prospective 2024 presidential contenders. And the response that Ryan received from Trump will remind them of the necessity of calibrating their remarks for Trump and his base.

Two of the upcoming speakers, Pence and Haley, have already paid for their lack of total allegiance, and the field is so deferential to Trump that most would likely not challenge him if he runs again in 2024.

In Ryan’s case, it’s not just that he was critical of Trump. It’s that the direction he wants conservatives to take is not in vogue in the modern GOP. A large majority of Republicans still believe Trump’s lie that the election was rigged. The party has declined to conduct the kinds of election post-mortems that both parties have traditionally performed following electoral defeats — party leaders weren’t willing to have a public discussion about what role Trump might have played.

Nor did many Republican voters see much reason to. When asked in a CBS News poll recently whether the GOP’s strategy for 2022 should be to prioritize the party’s message — telling the public about policies and ideas — or efforts to change voting laws, 47 percent of Republicans prioritized changing voting rules over ideas.

That’s despite the party continuing to lose market share nationally. Since the 1990s, Republican presidential candidates have won the popular vote only once, in 2004.

Ryan — once one of the GOP’s brightest stars — is clearly cognizant of the party’s diminished standing, having run on Mitt Romney’s losing ticket in 2012. Without naming Trump, he said at the Reagan Library that it was “horrifying to see a presidency come to such a dishonorable and disgraceful end. So once again, we conservatives find ourselves at a crossroads.”

“If the conservative cause depends on the populist appeal of one personality, or of second-rate imitations, then we’re not going anywhere,” he said, adding that Republican voters would “not be impressed by the sight of yes-men and flatterers flocking to Mar-a-Lago.”

That is a prediction shared by some other establishment-minded Republicans, many of whom take comfort in past examples of the party evolving — and relatively fast. At the prodding of William F. Buckley in the 1960s, the party did reform, distancing itself from racists and “kooks.” In the 1970s, Richard Nixon’s resignation — and the tumult within the party that followed — gave way to Reagan just six years later.

Georgia’s Republican lieutenant governor, Geoff Duncan, a Trump critic who announced this month that he wouldn’t seek a second term, said recently that his “gut tells me that an overwhelming majority of Republicans are going to, over the next few years, begin to realize that there is a new way forward.”

Trump’s hold on the party was not pre-ordained, after all. It was only about five years ago that he lost the Iowa caucuses to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, and if Trump doesn’t run again in 2024 — or if he’s felled by a criminal investigation — his hold on the GOP may loosen over time.

“It can happen relatively quickly,” said Tom Campbell, a former California Republican congressman and Reagan administration staffer who began collecting registrations last year for his new party, the Common Sense Party. “Many people did not know of Donald Trump before he ran for president.”

But so far, the prospect of the party breaking with Trump is not in evidence. In a spring-long purge of the unfaithful, Republicans have censured GOP lawmakers critical of Trump and removed one of his fiercest critics, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, from her post in House leadership.

In the past, successful efforts to change the direction of the party “really took the intellectual class of the party to… articulate an intellectual vision,” said Mike Madrid, a Republican strategist who was a co-founder of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project before stepping down in December.

Today, he said, “That’s what’s missing. The William F. Buckleys of the world have been replaced by the Diamond and Silks of the world… All of the brain trust has essentially left.”

Zach Montellaro contributed to this report.



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Guinea declares end to latest Ebola outbreak

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“I commend the affected communities, the government and people of Guinea, health workers, partners and everyone else whose dedicated efforts made it possible to contain this Ebola outbreak,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

“Based on the lessons learned from the 2014–16 outbreak and through rapid, coordinated response efforts, community engagement, effective public health measures and the equitable use of vaccines, Guinea managed to control the outbreak and prevent its spread beyond its borders.” The U.N. said it will continue to provide post-illness care.

The CDC welcomed the news in a statement.

“I commend the government and first responders in Guinea for ending the country’s Ebola outbreak,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. “Our heartfelt sympathies are with the people who lost loved ones to this disease. CDC remains committed to supporting survivor programs and helping strengthen global preparedness and response capacities that can prevent or extinguish future Ebola outbreaks.”

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Hard-line judiciary head wins Iran presidency amid low turnout

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In initial results, former Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezaei won 3.3 million votes and moderate Abdolnasser Hemmati got 2.4 million, said Jamal Orf, the head of Iran’s Interior Ministry election headquarters. The race’s fourth candidate, Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, had around 1 million votes, Orf said.

Hemmati offered his congratulations on Instagram to Raisi early Saturday.

“I hope your administration provides causes for pride for the Islamic Republic of Iran, improves the economy and life with comfort and welfare for the great nation of Iran,” he wrote.

On Twitter, Rezaei praised Khamenei and the Iranian people for taking part in the vote.

“God willing, the decisive election of my esteemed brother, Ayatollah Dr. Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, promises the establishment of a strong and popular government to solve the country’s problems,” Rezaei wrote.

The quick concessions, while not unusual in Iran’s previous elections, signaled what semiofficial news agencies inside Iran had been hinting at for hours: That the carefully controlled vote had been a blowout win for Raisi amid the boycott calls.

As night fell Friday, turnout appeared far lower than in Iran’s last presidential election in 2017. At one polling place inside a mosque in central Tehran, a Shiite cleric played soccer with a young boy as most of its workers napped in a courtyard. At another, officials watched videos on their mobile phones as state television blared beside them, offering only tight shots of locations around the country — as opposed to the long, snaking lines of past elections.

Balloting came to a close at 2.a.m. Saturday, after the government extended voting to accommodate what it called “crowding” at several polling places nationwide. Paper ballots, stuffed into large plastic boxes, were to be counted by hand through the night, and authorities said they expected to have initial results and turnout figures Saturday morning at the earliest.

“My vote will not change anything in this election, the number of people who are voting for Raisi is huge and Hemmati does not have the necessary skills for this,” said Hediyeh, a 25-year-old woman who gave only her first name while hurrying to a taxi in Haft-e Tir Square after avoiding the polls. “I have no candidate here.”

Iranian state television sought to downplay the turnout, pointing to the Gulf Arab sheikhdoms surrounding it ruled by hereditary leaders, and the lower participation in Western democracies. After a day of amplifying officials’ attempts to get out the vote, state TV broadcast scenes of jam-packed voting booths in several provinces overnight, seeking to portray a last-minute rush to the polls.

But since the 1979 revolution overthrew the shah, Iran’s theocracy has cited voter turnout as a sign of its legitimacy, beginning with its first referendum that won 98.2% support that simply asked whether or not people wanted an Islamic Republic.

The disqualifications affected reformists and those backing Rouhani, whose administration both reached the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and saw it disintegrate three years later with then-President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal of America from the accord.

Voter apathy also has been fed by the devastated state of the economy and subdued campaigning amid months of surging coronavirus cases. Poll workers wore gloves and masks, and some wiped down ballot boxes with disinfectants.

If elected, Raisi would be the first serving Iranian president sanctioned by the U.S. government even before entering office over his involvement in the mass execution of political prisoners in 1988, as well as his time as the head of Iran’s internationally criticized judiciary — one of the world’s top executioners.

It also would put hard-liners firmly in control across the government as negotiations in Vienna continue to try to save a tattered deal meant to limit Iran’s nuclear program at a time when Tehran is enriching uranium at its highest levels ever, though it still remains short of weapons-grade levels. Tensions remain high with both the U.S. and Israel, which is believed to have carried out a series of attacks targeting Iranian nuclear sites as well as assassinating the scientist who created its military atomic program decades earlier.

Whoever wins will likely serve two four-year terms and thus could be at the helm at what could be one of the most crucial moments for the country in decades — the death of the 82-year-old Khamenei. Speculation already has begun that Raisi might be a contender for the position, along with Khamenei’s son, Mojtaba.

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Apathy greets Iran presidential vote dominated by hard-liner

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“My vote will not change anything in this election, the number of people who are voting for Raisi is huge and Hemmati does not have the necessary skills for this,” said Hediyeh, a 25-year-old woman who gave only her first name while hurrying to a taxi in Haft-e Tir Square after avoiding the polls. “I have no candidate here.”

Iranian state television sought to downplay the turnout, pointing to the Gulf Arab sheikhdoms surrounding it ruled by hereditary leaders and the lower participation in Western democracies. But since the 1979 revolution overthrew the shah, Iran’s theocracy has cited voter turnout as a sign of its legitimacy, beginning with its first referendum that won 98.2% support that simply asked whether or not people wanted an Islamic Republic.

The disqualifications affected reformists and those backing Rouhani, whose administration both reached the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and saw it disintegrate three years later with then-President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal of America from the accord. Former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also blocked from running, said on social media he’d boycott the vote.

Voter apathy also has been fed by the devastated state of the economy and subdued campaigning amid months of surging coronavirus cases. Poll workers wore gloves and masks, and some wiped down ballot boxes with disinfectants.

If elected, Raisi would be the first serving Iranian president sanctioned by the U.S. government even before entering office over his involvement in the mass execution of political prisoners in 1988, as well as his time as the head of Iran’s internationally criticized judiciary — one of the world’s top executioners.

It also would put hard-liners firmly in control across the government as negotiations in Vienna continue to try to save a tattered deal meant to limit Iran’s nuclear program at a time when Tehran is enriching uranium at its highest levels ever, though it still remains short of weapons-grade levels. Tensions remain high with both the U.S. and Israel, which is believed to have carried out a series of attacks targeting Iranian nuclear sites as well as assassinating the scientist who created its military atomic program decades earlier.

Whoever wins will likely serve two four-year terms and thus could be at the helm at what could be one of the most crucial moments for the country in decades — the death of the 82-year-old Khamenei. Speculation already has begun that Raisi might be a contender for the position, along with Khamenei’s son, Mojtaba.

Khamenei cast the first vote from Tehran, urging the public to “go ahead, choose and vote.”

Raisi, wearing a black turban that identifies him in Shiite tradition as a direct descendant of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, voted from a mosque in southern Tehran. The cleric acknowledged in comments afterward that some may be “so upset that they don’t want to vote.”

“I beg everyone, the lovely youths, and all Iranian men and women speaking in any accent or language from any region and with any political views, to go and vote and cast their ballots,” Raisi said.

But few appeared to heed the call. There are more than 59 million eligible voters in Iran, a nation of over 80 million people. However, the state-linked Iranian Student Polling Agency has estimated a turnout will be just 44%, which would be the lowest since the revolution. Officials gave no turnout figures Friday, though results could come Saturday.

Fears about a low turnout have some warning Iran may be turning away from being an Islamic Republic — a government with elected civilian leadership overseen by a supreme leader from its Shiite clergy — to a country more tightly governed by its supreme leader, who already has final say on all matters of state and oversees its defense and atomic program.

“This is not acceptable,” said former President Mohammad Khatami, a reformist who sought to change the theocracy from the inside during eight years in office. “How would this conform to being a republic or Islamic?”

For his part, Khamenei warned of “foreign plots” seeking to depress turnout in a speech Wednesday. A flyer handed out on the streets of Tehran by hard-liners echoed that and bore the image of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2020. A polling station was set up by Soleimani’s grave on Friday.

Some voters appeared to echo that call.

“We cannot leave our destiny in the hands of foreigners and let them decide for us and create conditions that will be absolutely harmful for us,” said Tehran voter Shahla Pazouki.

Also hurting a moderate like Hemmati is the public anger aimed at Rouhani over the collapse of the deal, despite ongoing talks in Vienna to revive it. Iran’s already-ailing economy has suffered since, with double-digit inflation and mass unemployment.

“It is useless,” said Ali Hosseini, a 36-year-old unemployed resident in southern Tehran, about voting. “Anyone who wins the election after some time says he cannot solve problem of the economy because of intervention by influential people. He then forgets his promises and we poor people again remain disappointed.”

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