The 2016 election campaign continues to get more and more combative, but the most notable battles are within the Republican party. Presidential nominee Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he could not endorse Paul Ryan or John McCain in their primary campaigns. Both high-profile Republicans have endorsed Trump for president but they have criticized many of his comments and policy proposals. Trump’s refusal to endorse Ryan or McCain comes after both men were very critical of Trump’s public feud with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of a war hero who died in Afghanistan.
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) August 2, 2016
In an interview with the Washington Post, Donald Trump said he was not going to back Paul Ryan in the Wisconsin primary next week, nor would he be backing John McCain in his primary in Arizona later in the month. Trump praised Ryan’s opponent Paul Nehlen for running a very good campaign, and when speaking about Ryan, he said, “I like Paul, but these are horrible times for our country. We need very strong leadership. We need very, very strong leadership. And I’m just not quite there yet. I’m not quite there yet.”
Trump claimed that Ryan had asked for the endorsement, but said he is only “giving it very serious consideration.” Later on Twitter, Trump thanked Nehlen for his “kind words” although it wasn’t quite clear which words those were. Nehlen responded to the presidential candidate saying “my pleasure, Sir. Just want to Make America Great Again.” With Donald Trump seemingly supporting his opponent quite publicly, Paul Ryan showed Trump how you handle a situation like a proper politician.
Paul Ryan’s spokesman responds to WashPost article saying Donald Trump won’t back Ryan in primary #2016 pic.twitter.com/u2Ex9l4ZdQ
— Alex Moe (@AlexNBCNews) August 2, 2016
The Washington Post reached out to Trump’s campaign to clarify which words Trump was thanking him for, but Nehlen’s Twitter account posted a link to a website where his staff criticized Paul Ryan’s criticism’s of Trump saying “The problem with Paul Ryan is his constant knee-jerk reactions to anything controversial Donald Trump might say without completely understanding the issue.” Rather than get into a Twitter war with Nehlen or Trump, Ryan’s campaign released a short but sweet statement, saying,
“Rather than engage in a back-and-forth, the Speaker is going to remain focused entirely on ensuring we deliver strong Republican majorities this fall.”
When discussing John McCain, Trump not only refused to endorse him, he had nothing nice to say about him either. His response when asked about McCain’s rebuke over the Khan situation was,
“I’ve never been there with John McCain because I’ve always felt that he should have done a much better job for the vets. He has not done a good job for the vets, and I’ve always felt that he should have done a much better job for the vets. So I’ve always had a difficult time with John for that reason, because our vets are not being treated properly. They’re not being treated fairly.”
Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence met with McCain while he was in Arizona, and although the meeting was previously scheduled, it seems likely that Pence was trying to mend some fences. After Republican Party leaders were left fuming about Donald Trump’s refusal to endorse Paul Ryan or John McCain, it was Pence on clean-up duty again. In fact, Pence went one step further and publicly endorsed Paul Ryan, breaking with his running mate on the issue.
According to the New York Times, Wisconsin’s leading Republicans Gov. Scott Walker and Senator Ron Johnson are so angry about Trump’s behavior that neither are going to campaign with him in Green Bay this week, despite originally being scheduled to attend. The NYT reported that Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee and a Wisconsin native, is also livid about Trump’s stunt and he’s currently trying to find the best way to throw his support behind Ryan.
One thing is for sure — the Republican Party is in big trouble if they don’t get their party united before the election. Donald Trump seems more interested in baiting and attacking people than actually bringing everyone together.
[Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images]