WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said his meeting today on Capitol Hill with presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump put their relationship in a “positive direction,” but he stopped short of emerging with an endorsement for the real-estate mogul.
“I think we had a very encouraging meeting,” Ryan told reporters at his weekly press conference, adding that they talked about their differences and what they need to do to unify “all strains” of conservatism.
Ryan said the two “discussed the core principles that tie us all together” such as the Constitution and separation of powers.
“We talked about life and how strongly we feel about this core principle… I was very encouraged by what I heard from Donald Trump today.”
From here, Ryan assured, “we’re going to go deeper into the policy areas to find common ground” because “you don’t put it together in 45 minutes.”
Asked explicitly if he was endorsing Trump after refusing to do so last week, the speaker replied that the process of unifying the Republican Party fresh off of “one of most divisive primaries in memory…takes some time.”
“It’s very important that we don’t fake unifying … so that we’re full strength in the fall,” he added.
Asked if there was talk about Trump toning down his rhetoric, Ryan said, “It’s important that the kind of conversation we had is between the two of us.”
He added that the conversation was “personal in some senses.” Pressed on Trump’s personality: “I thought he was a very warm and genuine person.”
As far as serving as chairman of the Republican National Convention, Ryan said he “will serve if our presumptive nominee wants me to do so and he did express that interest.”
The House speaker noted that while he represents “a wing of the conservative party,” Trump is “bringing a whole new wing to it.”
“Can we agree on the common, core principles that unite all of us?” Ryan asked. “…I’m not interested in litigating the past, I’m interested in going forward.”
“How do we keep adding and adding voters without subtracting any voters?”
After Ryan refused to endorse Trump last week, Trump warned that he could take revenge by refusing to support Ryan’s agenda — should the GOP win the White House and keep the House.
Ryan said policy teams from both camps would be working to bridge their gaps. “We’re going to go a little deeper into the policy weeds to make sure we have a better understanding of one another,” he said.
Ryan and Trump issued a joint statement after the meeting stressing that the U.S. “cannot afford another four years of the Obama White House, which is what Hillary Clinton represents.”
“That is why it’s critical that Republicans unite around our shared principles, advance a conservative agenda, and do all we can to win this fall. With that focus, we had a great conversation this morning,” the statement said. “While we were honest about our few differences, we recognize that there are also many important areas of common ground. We will be having additional discussions, but remain confident there’s a great opportunity to unify our party and win this fall, and we are totally committed to working together to achieve that goal.”
“We are extremely proud of the fact that many millions of new voters have entered the primary system, far more than ever before in the Republican Party’s history. This was our first meeting, but it was a very positive step toward unification.”
At Republican National Committee, chairman Reince Priebus told reporters that Trump and Ryan “had a great day today and they’re going to take it from here.”
“He’s in line with the platform,” Priebus assured. “There’s never 100 percent unanimity in anything.”
After meeting with House leaders, Trump moved on to the National Republican Senatorial Committee to meet with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and top senators.
McConnell has already endorsed Trump.