House Speaker Paul Ryan says Republican lawmakers should follow their conscience in deciding whether or not to support Donald Trump, the GOP’s presumptive nominee for president.
The Wisconsin Republican told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “the last thing I would do is tell anybody to do something that’s contrary to their conscience. Of course I wouldn’t do that.”
Ryan, who has given a lukewarm endorsement to Trump, said he understands he is in a “very strange situation” to be supporting the party’s presumptive nominee while not urging his fellow lawmakers to follow suit. But he said Trump is “a very unique nominee.”
In the meantime, Trump continued to tell everyone that “The party is doing very well.”
“The party is actually liking me. You know, … I’m an outsider and historically they don’t love the outsiders. But I think they’re starting to like me,” he added.
Trump further said, “You don’t hear about the tremendous numbers of people — and I’m even talking about the politicians — that are totally supportive. If one person raises a little question, it’s like, ‘Oh, did you hear?’ Let me tell you folks, we have tremendous support. Tremendous. But the biggest support of all by far: right here. I’m the messenger.”
Ryan told reporters earlier that he will continue to speak out in defense of conservative principles, despite a warning from Trump that Republican congressional leaders should “be quiet.”
He and other congressional leaders “represent a separate but equal branch of government,” Ryan said as he vowed to “robustly defend the separation of powers.”
On the other hand, Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., a 30-year House veteran and committee chairman, said he will not endorse Trump for president. Maryland’s Republican Gov. Larry Hogan also said he will not vote for the billionaire presidential candidate. And Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a former GOP candidate for president, said he’s still not ready to endorse Trump.
However, Ryan said he has no plans to rescind his endorsement of Trump despite his differences with him.
“I don’t have a plan to do that,” he said Thursday, calling differences among party leaders “just the way things work.”
“We have support like perhaps nobody’s ever had when they’ve run for office,” he said. “Certainly at this stage, I don’t think anybody’s ever seen anything like this.”
Barbara Greene, Readers Bureau, Fellow
Edited by Jesus Chan
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