WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday anyone who wants to be the Republican presidential nominee must reject any racist group or individual.
Ryan made the tacit swipe at GOP front runner Donald Trump as voters in 11 states holding Republican contests headed to the polls on Super Tuesday. Ryan told reporters Tuesday that the GOP is the party of President Abraham Lincoln and “this party does not prey on people’s prejudices.”
I asked Trump last Thursday in the spin room about Duke and White supremacist support. He "disavowed" it. He also "disavowed" Duke on Friday
— Katy Tur (@KatyTurNBC) February 28, 2016
Ryan was apparently referring to Trump’s appearance Sunday on CNN when he declined to disavow the support of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and other white supremacists.
“When I see something that runs counter to who we are as a party and a country I will speak up. So today I want to be very clear about something: If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican Party there can be no evasion and no games. They must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry,” Ryan said.
As I stated at the press conference on Friday regarding David Duke- I disavow. pic.twitter.com/OIXFKPUlz2
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 28, 2016
Trump subsequently disavowed Duke, blaming his interview performance Sunday on a bad earpiece.
Ryan again said he plans to support whomever emerges as the GOP nominee but bemoaned the current discourse in the party and said it was time to get back to focusing on how Republicans would solve the nation’s problems.
“We are the party of Lincoln,” Ryan added. “We believe all people are created in the eyes of God and our government. This is fundamental. And if someone wants to be our nominee they must understand this.”
Ryan was the GOP vice presidential nominee in 2012. He said he has tried to avoid commenting on the presidential race but felt a need to speak up.
“I try to stay out of the day-to-day ups and downs of the primary,” Ryan said. “But I’ve said when I see something that runs counter to who we are as a party and a country I will speak up.”
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