House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said that despite a “concerted effort” from the left to disrupt Donald Trump’s campaign rallies, candidates have a responsibility “to not incite violence.”
Ryan, who has made a concerted effort to keep out of the presidential race and not be seen as backing one candidate over another, was asked outside of a closed caucus meeting on the Hill today about recent violence at Trump rallies.
“Number one, it’s pretty clear that there’s a concerted effort by people on the left to disrupt these rallies, to disrupt these events. And that needs to be condemned and we condemn that,” he replied.
“Having said that, I think as candidates, all candidates have an obligation to do what they can do to try and provide an atmosphere of harmony, to reduce the violence, to not incite violence, and to make sure that we are appealing to people on their best ideals; that we are going to unite the country around ideas that unite the country so that we can actually fix our country’s problems.”
Ryan added that “what we can control is who we are and what we do here in the House.”
“This is why we have an agenda project in the first place. We think the country’s headed in the wrong direction. We think people are very anxious and upset because they see that they’re losing control of their own destiny and their own country and their own government,” he continued.
“So let’s channel that passion, that anxiety, that concern that we all share into action and solutions. This is why we have an agenda project, so that we’re going to take solutions to the country to show we reclaim this country; how we reclaim our Article I powers, government by consent; how we get this economy growing; how we get people out of poverty; how we make sure that we don’t have a debt crisis to give the next generation a lower standard of living; how do we keep ourselves safe? This is what we believe we need to do, which is go to the country with solutions and let them choose. And that is what we can control. All these other things on the top of the ticket are things that are not within our control. But as far as the substance and the ideas and the principles and the solutions that we’re offering the country, that’s what we can do and that is exactly what we’re doing.”
Faced with more questions from the media about the race, Ryan stressed that “the Republican primary voters are going to make this decision — this is not our decision to make.”
“What can we control? We can control our agenda. That’s what we’re doing,” he said. “With respect to who the nominee is going to be, that’s going to be selected by the voters.”
In his own meeting with reporters on Capitol Hill today, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) decried Trump “encouraging and sanctioning violence.”
Hoyer noted that George Wallace was shot in 1972 while campaigning in what would become his district in Laurel, Md.
“We find that candidates who tend to appeal to anger and encourage confrontation tend to have that at their events. The more you egg people on in the way you appeal to their anger and to their violent natures,” Hoyer said.
“John McCain, if you recall during the course of the campaign when he ran for president, when somebody referred to Obama as Muslim he said he’s not a Muslim and he deserves respect… That’s the way Trump should be handling this and he’s not. He’s stoking anger, he’s stoking violence and it is reprehensible.”
The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office in Fayetteville, N.C., had been investigating whether there was enough evidence to charge Trump with inciting a riot. That’s where Trump supporter John McGraw was arrested after sucker-punching a young protester who was walking out of the arena. “We don’t know who he is, but we know he’s not acting like an American. The next time we see him, we might have to kill him,” McGraw told a TV crew.
“The Sheriff’s Office legal counsel advised, and the Sheriff concurred, that the evidence does not meet the requisites of the law as established under the relevant North Carolina statute and case law to support a conviction of the crime of inciting a riot,” the office said in a statement Monday evening.
Trump called the probe “ridiculous” this morning on Fox.
“I gave a speech, it was a really good speech. We had 20,000 people there. Standing ovation,” he said. “I’ll tell you who they should charge are these horrible protesters that go in there just looking for trouble.”
Trump told NBC on Sunday that McGraw “obviously loves his country” and he had asked his people to look into covering legal fees for the 78-year-old supporter.