Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Friday evening sought to end a high-stakes impasse with several members of his party’s leadership by delivering a formal endorsement of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s reelection after initially refusing to do so.
“We will have disagreements but we will disagree as friends and never stop working together toward victory. And very importantly, toward real change,” Trump said during a campaign event in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Friday evening. “So in our shared mission to make America great again, I support and endorse our speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
Trump also endorsed Arizona Sen. John McCain and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s reelection efforts during the event. He flashed two thumbs up and a smile as he made the formal endorsement.
“And we may disagree on a couple of things but mostly we agree and we’re going to get it done,” Trump added.
The real estate mogul ignited a political firestorm within his own party earlier this week when he pointedly withheld his endorsement from Ryan, who is facing a primary challenge Tuesday that he is expected to win. But Trump’s decision not to endorse angered many in the party’s establishment wing, and raised serious questions about whether Trump will be able to lead a unified party against his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
Trump received a cold shoulder from several of the highest profile Republicans in Wisconsin politics during his campaign event there, with Ryan and Gov. Scott Walker notably absent.
Ryan’s team appeared unaware Friday afternoon about the imminent endorsement as early news reports that Trump was considering doing so began circulating. He dismissed questions about Trump withholding his endorsement during several radio interviews Friday morning.
“I see no purpose in doing this tit-for-tat petty back-and-forth with Donald Trump, because it serves no purpose in my mind,” Ryan said during a radio interview with conservative host Charlie Sykes.
Trump’s move to endorse Ryan, McCain and Ayotte is an attempt to put the controversy and feuds behind him. He acknowledged Friday that he would need a unified party in November and called on Republicans to work together in the months ahead.
“I need a Republican Senate and House to accomplish all of the changes that we have to make. We have to make them,” Trump said. “I understand and embrace the wisdom of Ronald Reagan’s big tent within the party. Big, big tent, remember? Ronald Reagan. Great man. Great guy.”
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Jose A. DelReal