With unequivocal and straight-forward language, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) addressed the attempted association by white supremacist groups with GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump by laying out his expectations for all Republican candidates seeking the White House.
“This is the kind of moment where we should be having a serious debate about the policies needed to restore the American idea. Instead, the conversation over the last few days has been over white supremacy groups. I try to stay out of the ups and downs of the primary, but I’ve also said when I see something that runs counter to who we are as a party and a country, I will speak up. If a person wants to be the nominee of the party, there can be no evasion and no games. They must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry,” Ryan told reporters at a press conference.
The House Speaker did not mention Mr. Trump by name.
Ryan’s press conference came after a four-day period of upheaval where Mr. Trump stumbled in a CNN interview when given an opportunity to disavow comments made by former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard, David Duke, who said: “Voting against you (Trump) at this point would be treason to your heritage.”
Responding to CNN’s Jake Tapper, Trump offered an indistinct answer, later blamed his response on a faulty earpiece and insisted he had disassociated himself from Duke and the KKK earlier in the week.
Avoiding mentioning Trump by name and suggesting Trump’s “seeming ambivalence” in the absence of an out-and-out disavowal of support from Duke, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) weighed in late Tuesday afternoon and stated:
“Let me make it perfectly clear, Senate Republicans condemn David Duke [and] the KKK. That is not the view of Republicans that have been elected to the United States Senate. I condemn his comments in the most forceful way.”
Both Ryan and McConnell expressed a desire to avoid further comment on the issue and conveyed their reluctance to address the presidential contest.
[Reuters] [The Hill] [Photo courtesy WSJ]