House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan is trying to keep fellow Republicans in control of Congress but said Sunday he wouldn’t ask them to endorse Donald Trump for the sake of party unity, to save their Capitol Hill majority or keep Democrat Hillary Clinton out of the White House.
“Imagine the speaker of the House not supporting the duly elected nominee of our party, therefore creating a chasm in our party,” the Wisconsin Republican said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I don't want to see Hillary Clinton as president. I want to see a strong majority in the House and the Senate.”
Ryan has endorsed Trump but waited about a month after he won enough primaries, caucuses and accompanying delegates in early May to become the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee. After some direct conversations with Trump and assurances that he would support a conservative agenda, Ryan officially backed Trump earlier this month.
However, Ryan has since criticized some of Trump’s subsequent comments, including the suggestion that an American-born judge presiding over a civil suit against Trump University real estate school could be bias because of his Mexican heritage.
“I disavow these comments,” Ryan told reporters earlier this month. “Claiming a person can't do their job because of race is sort of like a textbook definition of a racist comment.”
After the June 12 massacre at an Orlando, Fla., nightclub committed by Omar Mateen, a Muslim who was apparently self-radicalized, Trump renewed his call to temporarily keep Muslims out of the country.
Ryan later repeated his disapproval for such a ban, saying it was not “in our country's interests.”
Still, Ryan suggested Sunday that he wouldn’t tell a Capitol Hill Republican seeking reelection on any party member to back Trump for the benefit the party in 2016.
“The last thing I would do is tell anybody to do something that's contrary to their conscience,” Ryan said.
Ryan, chairman of the GOP nomination convention in July, also said he disagrees with a purported effort by convention delegates to switch their assigned allegiance from Trump to another candidate to deny him the nomination. However, Ryan said he has no authority over such rules and related decisions
“The voters picked (Trump.) He beat Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush and everybody else,” Ryan said. “He won the delegates. My place … is to call balls and strikes and just play it by the rules. So it is not my job to tell delegates what to do or what not to do or to weigh in on things like that.”