June 19, 2016
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said elected Republicans have the right to withhold support from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and suggested he might not have endorsed the party’s presumptive presidential nominee if not for his own leadership position.
“I have certain responsibilities, as not just as Congressman Ryan from the 1st District of Wisconsin, but as speaker of the House,” Ryan told NBC’s “Meet The Press” in an interview that aired Sunday.
“Imagine the speaker of the House not supporting the duly elected nominee of our party, therefore creating a chasm in our party to split us in half, which basically helps deny us the White House and strong majorities in Congress.”
Ryan said that Trump has made comments and taken policy positions that he does not agree with, but he added that a Hillary Clinton presidency was a bigger concern for him because she would “continue taking the country in the wrong direction.”
Despite his reservations about Trump, Ryan said, he had to respect the will of Republican primary voters.
“This isn’t a top-down party where a handful of people pick our nominee and the president. The voters picked him,” he said.
Ryan would not comment on the prospect of changing party rules to allow delegates to deny Trump the nomination at the convention, a notion – however unlikely – that some chief intra-party critics of the wealthy real estate executive have raised.
“It is not my job to tell delegates what to do, what not to do, or to weigh in on things like that,” said Ryan, who will serve as the convention chairman.
“All I want to make sure is that it’s done above board, clearly, honestly and by the rules. So I see my role now, given that he’s got the plurality, he actually won, is pretty much a ceremonial position. But the last thing I’m going to do is weigh in and tell delegates what to do – how to do their jobs.”
Trump, in separate interviews, reiterated his view that Republican leaders “shouldn’t be talking so much.”
“I won the primaries with the largest vote ever,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
“We brought additional people in that wouldn’t have been in if I weren’t doing this and I were not running. And I would say this. … They should go out and do their job. Let me do my job. I have tremendous support from both politicians and the people.”
On NBC, Trump said it would “be nice if the Republicans stuck together.”
“I can win one way or the other,” he said. “I obviously won the primaries without them.”