House Speaker Paul Ryan attempted to distance himself Friday from any feud with Donald Trump but noted he could un-endorse the Republican nominee if he continues to make controversial statements.
Ryan told a Wisconsin radio station Friday that his support of Trump is not a “blank check” and added he could pull his endorsement if necessary.
“Of course,” Ryan said when asked by Milwaukee radio host Charlie Sykes if there was anything Trump might say that would cause the congressman to retract his endorsement. “But I’m not going to go down the road of litigating his past comments.”
In a separate interview, Ryan said “heck if I know” when asked if the conflict with Trump was over. The speaker added he was more interested in seeking the support of his constituents in Wisconsin’s Aug. 9 primary than in engaging Trump.
“I’m not going to try and psychoanalyze stuff,” Ryan told WISN-12’s Jay Weber in Milwaukee. “I’m going to rise above the stuff, and I’m not going to get involved in some petty back-and-forth. I don’t see a purpose in that.”
Ryan has been critical of Trump’s feud with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of a Muslim American soldier killed in Iraq. The Khans spoke out against Trump at the Democratic National Convention, and Trump criticized them in response.
In a statement last week, Ryan said attacking Gold Star families was unacceptable and that they deserved greater respect. Trump then told the Washington Post on Tuesday that he would not endorse Ryan in his GOP primary, saying he was “not quite there yet.” Trump also declined to endorse other Republicans, including Arizona Sen. John McCain and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, in their races.
“I like Paul, but these are horrible times for our country. We need very strong leadership. We need very, very strong leadership,” Trump said, echoing the words Ryan used before he endorsed Trump.
However, Fox News is reporting that Trump will endorse Ryan Friday night at a rally in Green Bay, Wis.
Ryan’s primary opponent, Paul Nehlen, has also been supportive of Trump, who responded in kind on Monday by thanking Nehlen for his support during the Khan firestorm.
Nehlen garnered headlines Thursday when he called for a deportation of Muslims in the U.S. in an interview with a Chicago radio station.
Ryan said Nehlen represents “alt-conservativism” and was backed by “scam PACs.”
“You can’t make this stuff up,” Ryan said. “It is antithetical to any kind of principle we have as Republicans, as conservatives and as Americans.”
Ryan is leading Nehlen by 66 points, according to a poll released Friday morning.