Despite signs that Republicans are slowly coalescing ahead of Donald Trump’s imminent coronation as the party’s presidential nominee, some influential leaders are not quite on board yet. House Speaker Paul Ryan is one such holdout, and although the Wisconsin Congressman has warmed to the billionaire candidate over the course of recent weeks, he remains reluctant to express his full and public support for his party’s presumptive nominee.
Ahead of a phone conference with Donald Trump slated for Wednesday evening, Paul Ryan sidestepped talk of an endorsement for the real estate mogul’s candidacy during a press briefing earlier that day.
“I don’t know where all this is coming from,” Paul Ryan told reporters in comments transcribed by CNN. “I haven’t made a decision… and nothing’s changed my perspective. We’re still having productive conversations.” Ryan added that he has “no timeline in mind” to formally endorse Trump.
After Republican candidates John Kasich and Ted Cruz dropped out of the race earlier this month, Paul Ryan declined to endorse Donald Trump despite the fact that Trump had become the GOP’s presumptive nominee by attrition. Ryan’s reluctance prompted a public rebuke by Trump and ultimately required Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to intervene and broker some degree of peace between the men. The two came face to face in a private meeting on May 12 and both men appeared cautiously optimistic through subsequent statements on the get-together. A joint statement issued by both men emphasized a need for party unity heading into the general election.
“While we were honest about our few differences, we recognize that there are also many important areas of common ground,” Trump and Ryan said in their joint statement, which was later cited in a report by CNN. “We will be having additional discussions, but remain confident there’s a great opportunity to unify our party and win this fall, and we are totally committed to working together to achieve that goal.”
Dana Milbank of The Washington Post speculates that a good deal of Paul Ryan’s hesitancy centers around Donald Trump’s penchant for mischief and chaos through his use of incendiary campaign rhetoric. Most recently, Donald Trump publicly maligned New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez during a rally in Albuquerque. As noted by Milbank, Martinez is arguably “the most prominent Hispanic Republican officeholder in America.” She is also the head of the Republican Governors Association.
Donald Trump has also made Washington insiders uncomfortable with his mounting attacks on Senator Elizabeth Warren’s purported Native American heritage, referring to her as “Pocahontas” during a number of campaign events.
Paul Ryan also has close ties to Mitt Romney from their time together as running mates during the 2012 election. Romney emerged as one of the most vocal members of a “Never Trump” coalition of Republicans, although over the course of recent weeks, the former Massachusetts Governor appears to have backed away from an effort to bring a third-party contender into the race against Trump.
Even without Paul Ryan’s endorsement, Donald Trump has gained the reluctant support of a number of Republicans in recent weeks including some of his most spirited opponents from the primary season. According to Red State, Florida Senator Marco Rubio said he will support Donald Trump versus a Democratic contender come November despite a bitter rivalry in which Rubio was often the butt of Trump’s jokes. Former presidential candidate Lindsey Graham, who once told Americans to make America great again by telling Donald Trump to “go to hell,” is also now quietly encouraging donors to pledge money to Donald Trump’s campaign according to a report by Yahoo News.
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