In an August 2 interview with the Washington Post, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump refused to endorse House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). That came the day after Trump said he “very much appreciated” the support of Ryan’s far-right challenger in an upcoming primary election, and shortly after both Ryan and McCain issued statements criticizing Trump for attacking the family of a Muslim U.S. Army Captain who was killed in Iraq.
Trump’s failure to back two Republican Party leaders while his own poll numbers tanked reportedly left the chair of Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus “apoplectic” and Trump’s own aides “suicidal.”
Friday night in Green Bay, Trump tried to put all that behind him. Reading from a sheet of paper, Trump endorsed not only Ryan and McCain, but also embattled Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), who he heaped scorn on during the Post interview.
Trump cited exactly zero policy goals he shares with Ryan, McCain or Ayotte. Instead, he acknowledged that while he and the Ryan “may disagree on a couple of things,” the Speaker is ultimately “a good man” and “a good guy.” Trump added that he holds McCain “in the highest esteem,” despite never offering a straight apology for questioning McCain’s status as a war hero last summer. As for Ayotte, Trump characterized her as “a rising star [who] will continue to represent the great people of New Hampshire so very well for a long, long time.” In the Post interview, however, Trump questioned whether “weak people” like Ayotte “should be representing us.” (A poll released this week found Ayotte 10 points behind her Democratic challenger, Gov. Maggie Hassan.)
Trump’s string of endorsements seems to represent a belated attempt to restore party unity. But when it comes to policy, he and Ryan have little in common. Ryan wants to cut safety net programs — Trump does not. Ryan supports free trade — Trump has made his opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership one of his campaign’s signature issues. With regard to immigration, Ryan recently said “we have to come up with a solution that doesn’t involve mass deportation,” but mass deportation of undocumented immigrants is exactly what Trump wants to do. Ryan believes NATO “is as important now as I would say it’s been in my lifetime,” while Trump recently suggested the United States would only come to NATO allies’ defense if “they fulfill their obligations to us.”
Why Trump Can Bully Paul Ryan And Get Away With It, In One ChartHouse Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) endorsed his party’s racist presidential nominee. Now that nominee has publicly humiliated…thinkprogress.orgOn Thursday, Ryan left the door to rescinding his endorsement of Trump, which he originally made in June, just hours after promising to speak out against the sort of Islamophobia Trump has been peddling throughout his campaign. A statement issued by Ryan’s spokesperson following Trump’s endorsement was lukewarm.
Ryan “appreciates the gesture and is going to continue to focus on earning the endorsement of the voters in southern Wisconsin,” the spokesperson said.
Trump supporters weren’t happy about Ryan’s tone:
Ryan, ungraciously referred to Trump's endorsement as only a "gesture". Nice Ryan, you never change brother.
— Bill Mitchell (@mitchellvii) August 6, 2016