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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