Ryan Condemns Trump on KKK, but Still Vows to Back GOP Nominee

The House speaker said the party’s White House pick “must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Daniel Newhauser
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Daniel Newhauser
March 1, 2016, 11:03 a.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan repudiated Donald Trump on Tuesday for his hesitancy in rejecting the Ku Klux Klan, but the House leader said he would still support his party’s nominee even if Trump wins.

In prepared remarks at a morning press conference, Ryan said he felt the need to weigh in because he believes the presidential race should be a “serious debate about the policies needed to restore the American idea.

“Instead, the conversation over the last few days has been about white-supremacist groups,” he said. “Today I want to be very clear about something: If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican Party, there can be no evasion and no games. They must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry.

“This party does not prey on people’s prejudices. We appeal to their highest ideals. This is the party of Lincoln. We believe all people are created equal in the eyes of God and our government. This is fundamental, and if someone wants to be our nominee they must understand this,” he added.

Trump has been under fire after former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke endorsed him. Initially Trump disavowed the endorsement, but when asked on CNN, he said he did not know much about Duke or the KKK and would have to look more into the issue before commenting. Trump later blamed his hesitation on a bad earpiece.

This is the second time Ryan has publicly spoken out against Trump. The first was after Trump called for a ban on all Muslims from entering the U.S. Ryan said he hopes this will be the last time he feels compelled to speak out on the race, but when asked, he still said he would support the Republican nominee, whoever it is.

“I plan to support the nominee,” he said.

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