House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday that that his support of Donald Trump is “not a blank check,” while standing by his recent criticisms of the Republican nominee’s campaign amid a tumultuous week.
The Wisconsin Republican spoke to a local radio station two days after Trump decided against endorsing the House speaker in his primary race against insurgent Wisconsin businessman Paul Nehlen, which takes place on Tuesday.
“He’s had a pretty strange run since the convention,” Ryan told host Jerry Bader on WTAQ radio. “You would think that we want to be focusing on Hillary Clinton, on all of her deficiencies. She is such a weak candidate that one would think that we would be on offence against Hillary Clinton, and it is distressing that that’s not what we’re talking about these days.”
Continuing with his critique of Trump’s feud with Ghazala and Khizr Khan, the Gold Star parents who spoke out against him at the Democratic National Convention, Ryan called Trump’s recent remarks about the parents “beyond the pale.”
“You don’t do that to Gold Star families,” he said. “If anyone has earned the right to say whatever they want, it is Gold Star Families.”
Ryan, who has faced pressure to rescind his endorsement of Trump, was asked by Bader what would make him abandon his support for the bombastic billionaire. Ryan said “none of these things are ever blank checks,” repeating a line he’s used previously.
He did add, though, that he remains behind Trump following the Khan ordeal.
On Tuesday, Trump said he was “not quite” ready to endorse Ryan.
“I like Paul, but these are horrible times for our country,” Trump said in an interview with The Washington Post. “We need very strong leadership. We need very, very strong leadership. And I’m just not quite there yet. I’m not quite there yet.”
Ryan, after initially declining to offer Trump an endorsement as the party’s presumptive nominee, did endorse him in June. He also spoke at the GOP convention last month, in a sign of party unity between the two leaders.
The move came just one day after Trump offered praise to Nehlen on Twitter for defending him over the Khan controversy.
Trump told The Post that Nehlen, who has been reliably pro-Trump, was running “a very good campaign,” but he also said he didn’t offer his support and that he was merely thanking him for “sending their love.”
Speaking to Business Insider on Tuesday evening, Nehlen called Ryan a “soulless globalist” but expressed scepticism that Trump would come to his aid with an endorsement. Nehlen, who faces near-insurmountable odds, characterising Ryan as “the most open-borders, anti-worker, pro-Wall Street member of Congress on either side.”
He also chastised Ryan for weighing in on the Khan debate that has earned Trump widespread condemnation from those both within and outside the GOP.
“Why does he weigh in on issues that, on the negative side, every time with Mr. Trump?” Nehlen said. “He’s our nominee. He takes every opportunity to take a shot at Mr. Trump.”
During his Thursday interview, Ryan labelled Nehlen’s campaign as “an out-of-state insurgent campaign powered by these scam PACs, staffed by out-of-state people.”
“I don’t think Wisconsinites like these kinds of things,” he said. “I feel very good where I am.”
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