House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday he’s not yet ready to support Donald Trump for president, raising new questions about whether the fractured Republican party will be able to unite around its controversial front-runner.
“I’m just not ready to do that at this point. I’m not there right now,” Ryan said in a bombshell interview on CNN, adding that he hoped to eventually support Trump.
But, he added, “what is required is to unify this party. And the bulk of the burden on unifying the party will have to come from our presumptive nominee.”
Ryan, too, said that conservatives are skeptical of Trump “and want to know, ‘Does he share our values and our principals?’ “
Asked whether Trump's proposed Muslim ban, opposition to free trade agreements and call to deport 12 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally would preclude him from ever supporting Trump, Ryan said: "We got work to do."
Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate who will chair the Republican convention in July, is the highest ranking Republican to publicly voice anxiety over Trump’s all-but-clinched presidential nomination.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement late Wednesday that he would back Trump, though neither George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush -- will attend the convention in Cleveland. Ryan’s running mate, Mitt Romney, who blasted Trump in a speech in March, is also skipping the convention.
Ryan’s declaration drew applause from the anti-Trump group, #NeverTrump, which called for “more Republicans to speak out when leadership is necessary.”
Ryan also reiterated that he’s not interest in being drafted as a presidential candidate at the convention. Many Republicans have suggested Ryan as a “savior” candidate, though polls suggest voters are opposed to convention deals that would seemingly go against the will of the voters.
Trump, who disagrees with Ryan on trade policies, fired back a statement, saying he wasn’t ready to support Ryan's agenda.
“Perhaps in the future we can work together and come to an agreement about what is best for the American people,” Trump said in the statement. “They have been treated so badly for so long that it is about time for politicians to put them first!"