News & Politics

Trump Says He Was 'Blindsided' by Ryan's Refusal to Endorse Him

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The conflict between Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan deepened yesterday when Trump said he was “blindsided” by the speaker’s refusal to endorse him.

Trump suggested that he believed that Ryan had no problem with his becoming the nominee which made his non-endorsement a surprise.

CNN:

“Yeah, I was blindsided a little bit, because he spoke to me three weeks ago, and it was a very nice call, a very encouraging call,” Trump told NBC News’ Chuck Todd in an interview set to air Sunday on “Meet the Press.” “He called me, I think, to congratulate me about New York, ’cause I won by massive numbers.”

An excerpt of the interview was released late Saturday afternoon.

Trump added that he has “a nice relationship” with Ryan, though he told Todd he doesn’t know him well and met him only one time.

“But I have a nice relationship with him. And then all of a sudden, he gets on and he does this number. So I’m not exactly sure what he has in mind. But that’s OK,” Trump said.

Ryan sent shockwaves through the political establishment Thursday when he told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he’s “just not ready” to support Trump, making him the highest-level GOP official to reject the real estate magnate since he became the last candidate standing in the party’s nominating contest.

]Trump and Ryan are due to meet Thursday on Capitol Hill, where Trump also is due to meet with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and top congressional Republicans in an effort to unify a Republican Party that’s becoming increasing fractured now that Trump is the party’s standard-bearer.

n perhaps a preview of the message he intends to deliver to Ryan, Trump told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos Friday that he doesn’t need to earn Ryan’s support.

“I’m gonna say, ‘Look, this is what the people want,'” Trump told Stephanopoulos.

Trump softened his tone on Ryan while speaking at a campaign event in Spokane, Washington, on Saturday.

Ryan is giving Republicans in the House a clear choice: him or Trump. If it’s Trump, it’s very hard to see how Ryan can continue as speaker. It’s ludicrous to think that the highest-ranking Republican in government can maintain his position if he doesn’t support his party’s nominee for president.

So unless Ryan bends and offers his support for Trump following this meeting on Thursday, or the two men can come to some kind of meeting of the minds, I believe that Ryan will resign sooner rather than later.

The Republican meltdown over the last three days has been extraordinary. The party is disintegrating before our eyes — a phenomenon not seen since the dissolution of the Whigs in the 1850s. There, the issue was slavery; northern Whigs were largely opposed while southern Whigs supported the institution. Here, the Republican Party has been taken over by someone who doesn’t like what it stands for and wants to change its defining character. In the process, Trump is destroying what he seeks to lead.