Washington, Aug 3 (IANS) Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has declined to endorse the re-election campaign of House speaker Paul Ryan, the highest-ranking member of his party here.
“I like Paul, but these are horrible times for our country,” Trump on Tuesday told the Washington Post, a publication that is banned from Trump’s campaign events.
“We need very, very strong leadership. And I’m just not quite there yet. I’m not quite there yet.”
The New York billionaire has refused to back Senator John McCain, the party’s 2008 nominee, in his bid for re-election in addition to Ryan, the most powerful elected Republican, The Guardian reported.
Ryan and McCain are longtime critics of Trump’s remarks, but both said they would support the Republican nominee in the general election.
Ryan needed coaxing to eventually support Trump, citing his concerns about his ban on Muslims entering the US.
Ryan not only endorsed Trump but presided over his nomination at the Republican national convention in Cleveland.
“Neither Ryan nor anyone on his team has ever asked for Trump’s endorsement. We are confident in a victory next week regardless,” Ryan’s campaign spokesman Zack Roday said.
The TWO have been critical of Trump in recent months following a string of increasingly racially and religiously charged statements.
Ryan has described Trump’s attacks on a federal judge Gustavo Curiel as “the textbook definition of a racist comment”.
McCain on Monday issued a strong rebuke of his remarks about the Muslim family of a killed army captain.
“I cannot emphasise how deeply I disagree with Trump’s statement,” McCain said in a statement, referring to his claim that the Khans had “no right” to criticise him and were motivated by opposition to the ban.
“I hope Americans understand that the remarks do not represent the views of our Republican party, its officers or candidates,” McCain said.
Ryan also criticised Trump for his comments, saying: “Many Muslim Americans have served valiantly in our military, and made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Trump’s refusal to support members of his own party comes exactly one week before Ryan faces a primary challenge from businessman Paul Nehlen, a candidate who has sought to emulate Trump’s rhetoric and policies.
Nehlen, who Trump personally thanked on Twitter last night, has branded Ryan “a soulless globalist” and attacked him as the candidate of open borders.
On Tuesday Trump praised Nehlen for running “a very good campaign”.
McCain also faces a primary challenge at the end of August from Kelli Ward, a former Arizona state senator who has accused the 2008 Republican nominee of being “directly responsible for Islamic State”.
If the five-term senator manages to fend off the primary challenge, he still faces a competitive general election against Representative Ann Kirkpatrick, in what McCain has described as “the race of my life”.
Although Arizona was once solidly Republican, the heavily Latino state is now considered an electoral tossup because of Trump’s unpredictable effect on candidates whose names follow his own on the ballot.
For over a year, McCain has also called on Trump to apologise for saying he prefers “people who weren’t captured” to prisoners of war, like the senator was himself in Vietnam. Trump has not apologised.