House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said today he’s looking to have a “straight conversation” with Donald Trump about the present state of the Republican Party and the 2016 presidential race when the two meet on Capitol Hill Thursday, after expressing reluctance about endorsing Trump’s White House bid.
“We have right now a disunified Republican Party. We shouldn’t sweep it under the rug without addressing it,” Ryan, R-Wis., said in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel today. “That would be to our detriment in the fall.”
The country’s two most prominent Republicans have traded blows over the past week after Trump effectively clinched the GOP presidential nomination with his win in the Indiana primary and after his two primary opponents — Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Gov. John Kasich — suspended their campaigns.
After previously promising to support his party’s nominee, Ryan, who has publicly rebuked some of Trump’s most controversial policy proposals, told CNN Thursday he was not ready to endorse the New York businessman unless he worked to better represent the Republican Party’s values.
Trump quickly fired back, threatening to withhold support for the House GOP’s election-year policy agenda.
In several television interviews that aired over the weekend, Trump appeared uninterested in bringing the Republican Party together before the November elections, and did not rule out pushing out the speaker from his traditional role as convention chairman.
Asked today about Trump’s comments, Ryan told Wisconsin’s largest newspaper he’ll “do whatever he wants with respect to the convention.”
Ryan, who said he doesn’t know Trump well, praised his primary campaign, and said he “deserves a ton of credit” for his “very impressive victory.”
“At the same time,” he said, “we want to make sure we don’t pretend we’re unified and then go into the fall at half-strength.”
In addition to meeting with Ryan, Trump will also meet with Senate GOP leaders Thursday when he visits Capitol Hill, two top Senate GOP aides said.
The meeting will occur at the National Republican Senatorial Committee headquarters, across Capitol Hill from the location of Trump’s Ryan-House GOP meeting, at 11:45 a.m. (The Senate meeting will likely overlap with Speaker Ryan’s weekly news conference, which usually starts around 11:30 a.m.)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, unlike Ryan, has endorsed his party’s presumptive presidential nominee. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., also said he plans to support his party’s nominee.
Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rogers, R-Wash., the No. 4 House Republican and top-ranking female Republican on Capitol Hill, told the Washington Spokesman-Review she’s hesitant about supporting Trump, and wants first to have a conversation with him.