WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called Donald Trump’s Monday night debate performance “spirited” today and said the candidates “met their expectations” in the face-off.
Speaking to reporters outside of a closed caucus meeting on Capitol Hill, Ryan was asked about Trump’s debate comments this morning on Fox News.
Opining that he did particularly well when asked “normal questions,” Trump said he “may hit [Clinton] harder in certain ways” in the next debate.
“I really eased up because I didn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings,” he said.
During the debate, Clinton hit Trump over the 1996 Miss Universe winner’s contention that he called her “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping.”
“Donald, she has a name. Her name is Alicia Machado. And she has become a U.S. citizen, and you can bet she’s going to vote this November,” Clinton added.
The campaign promptly released an ad featuring the Venezuelan beauty queen talking about her experiences with Trump:
“When she brought up the person, I know that person, that person was a Miss Universe person, and she was the worst we ever had,” Trump told Fox this morning. “The worst. The absolute worst. She was impossible. And she was a Miss Universe contestant, and ultimately a winner, who they had a tremendously difficult time with as Miss Universe.”
“She was the winner, and she gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem,” Trump continued. “Hillary went back into the years and she found this – this was many years ago – and found the girl, and talked about her like she was Mother Teresa, and it wasn’t quite that way, and that’s OK, Hillary has to do what she has to do.”
Ryan said he was working out this morning and didn’t hear the interview.
“I suppose you want a comment on this debate. Here’s what I saw last night,” he said. “I saw Hillary Clinton give a polished, well-rehearsed defense of the status quo, which seven out of 10 Americans don’t like. I saw Donald Trump give a spirited voice to those of us who don’t like the status quo.”
“And I see emerging in front of us the potential for what a unified Republican government can get you, which can be a solution to our country’s big pressing problems.”
The speaker called the debate “an opportunity to get us on a better path.”
Ryan added later that Trump “passed a number of thresholds which showed that for — what was it, 90 minutes? — for 90 minutes, he could go toe-to-toe with Hillary Clinton.”
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) told reporters that Trump “came unhinged” during the debate and disrespected Clinton and voters by “badgering and interrupting” her.
“Donald Trump essentially showed who he is. He gave us a sense of his character and his temperament,” Becerra said, adding “that’s the last thing you want for a president who will have his or her finger over the nuclear button.”