House Speaker Paul Ryan stopped short of a full endorsement of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump after a face-to-face meeting Thursday on Capitol Hill, but in a joint statement the two said they are “committed” to unifying a fractured Republican Party.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who also attended the meeting, called it a “positive step toward party unity.”
“While we were honest about our few differences, we recognize there are many important areas of common ground,” the statement from Trump and Ryan reads. “We will be having additional discussions, but remain confident there’s a great opportunity to unify out party and win this fall and we are totally committed to working together to achieve that goal. … This was our first meeting, but it was a very positive step toward unification.”
The sit-down followed Ryan’s comment to CNN last week that he was “not ready” to endorse Trump. The remark underscored the reservations many Republicans have about turning over the party to a standard-bearer who has frequently flouted both party orthodoxy and political norms.
For Trump, winning over Ryan would send a sign to the remaining holdouts in the GOP that he meets enough of their requirements to win their support.
Trump will need the party’s backing, especially when it comes to fundraising. The billionaire real estate mogul has paid for his own primary campaign, but now must build a fundraising apparatus that can bring in more than $1.5 billion in just six months to pay for the general election.
For Ryan, the party’s 2012 vice presidential nominee and the highest elected Republican in the country, deciding how best to handle Trump comes with potential pitfalls. Ryan has made clear his first priority is to preserve Republican control of the House. His reluctance to endorse Trump was seen by many as providing political cover to fellow Republicans in swing districts where moderate voters have expressed reservations about Trump’s candidacy.
Ryan has also been a leading voice on matters of policy in Republican circles and Trump has repeatedly staked out positions that do not align with Ryan’s conservative vision for the economy and foreign affairs.
Increasingly, however, Ryan has less wiggle room in at least accepting Trump as the nominee. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has endorsed Trump, as have a group of influential House committee chairmen.
After his meeting with Ryan and Priebus on Thursday morning, Trump met separately with House and Senate Republican leadership.
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