WASHINGTON, Aug. 5, 2016 — GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has announced that he will endorse House Speaker Paul Ryan for reelection. Trump made the announcement during a Ryan rally.
Trump’s decision to endorse Ryan was sudden, coming after two weeks that have seen Trump battered in the polls and by members of his party. It may point to attempts by Republicans to bridge the gap between the NeverTrump and the pro-Trump factions.
Trump made his announcement just days after he declined to endorse Ryan and Senators John McCain and Kelly Ayotte. Trump had previously disparaged McCain’s war record and his time as a POW, drawing heavy backlash from the GOP.
Trump’s endorsement of McCain, Ayotte and Ryan may help defuse the anger from establishment Republicans caused by his initial refusal to endorse them. He is concerned about his ability to work with Congress, admitting that he will need a Republican Congress to help him pass his agenda.
Trump praised Ayotte, calling her a “rising star.” “Working hand in hand we will grow our majority in the House and in the Senate,” he said. “Arm in arm we will rescue the nation from the Obama-Clinton disaster that has bled our country dry and spread terrorism unabated across the world.”
Ryan endorsed Trump in June, but they have clashed since then. Ryan criticized Trump’s attack on the parents of a Muslim, American soldier who was killed in Iraq. Apparently annoyed by Ryan’s criticism, Trump withheld his endorsement. He said that Ryan did not bring “very strong leadership.”
“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 running mate Gov. Mike Pence also endorsed Ryan after the rally.
Sally and I were proud to vote for @SpeakerRyan – also nice to deliver the ballots in person at Somers Town Hall.
— Reince Priebus (@Reince) August 5, 2016
Ryan said of Trump’s endorsement that he “appreciates the gesture,” but that his priority is to get the endorsement of southern Wisconsin voters. He will face off against Republican primary opponent Paul Nehlen on Tuesday. Nehlen has drawn comparisons to Donald Trump, claiming to share Trump’s stance on the hot-button issue of immigration.