WASHINGTON (CN) — Counting the "political revolution" of Bernie Sanders out too soon, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan's attempts at rallying wary Republicans against Hillary Clinton seems to have backfired.
Ryan had warned a gathering of Young Republicans earlier this month that, if Democrats took the Senate due to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's negative down-ballot effects, the Democratic Party would move the country farther to the left.
"If we lose the Senate, do you know who becomes chair of the Senate Budget Committee?" Ryan asked the group. "A guy named Bernie Sanders. You ever heard of him?"
Now, just 10 days after Ryan raised his alarm, Sanders claims to have raised $2.4 million for House and Senate candidates using Ryan's warning as a rallying cry.
"We heard what Paul Ryan said about Bernie: that if the Republicans lose the Senate, Bernie will be the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee," a press release from Sanders reads. "Thanks to Paul Ryan we raised more than $2 million in 72 hours to take back the House and Senate. What a statement!"
Sanders, though technically an Independent, is currently the ranking member on the Budget Committee. In the Senate, the chair of each committee is a member of the majority party while the ranking member hails from the minority.
Sanders says the $2.4 million came from 500,000 contributions, an average donation of $4.80. The campaign claims this fundraising push raised more from small donations in three days than the Republicans did from such sources in three months.
Neither the National Republican Congressional Committee nor the National Republican Senatorial Committee were available for comment before business hours Tuesday morning.
Once Clinton's fiercest rival, Sanders has become a loyal surrogate since losing the presidential nomination. The Vermont senator faces a careful balancing act in maintaining his cries for a "political revolution" and trying to make Clinton voters of the young people that campaign galvanized.
Ryan, on the other hand, has had an awkward relationship with Trump. After the release of an Access Hollywood tape that showed Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women, Ryan told fellow Republicans that he would stop defending the party's nominee.
The distrust was mutual. Reluctant to endorse Ryan in his own primary campaign, Trump has decried the speaker as a poor leader.
Republicans are still likely to hold the House, but a strong push from Trump supporters could yet cost Ryan the speaker's gavel.
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