Trump ends standoff with Ryan in effort to fix Republican split
Donald Trump endorsed House Speaker Paul Ryan late on Friday, ending a four-day standoff between the Republican Party’s most powerful men that exposed deepening concerns about the New York billionaire’s presidential candidacy.
Ryan, like other top Wisconsin Republicans, did not attend Trump’s evening appearance in their state.
Having refused to endorse the speaker earlier in the week, Trump said, “We have to unite” as he vowed to support Ryan in next week’s primary contest.
It was a stunning reversal for Trump, a candidate who is known for his refusal to admit mistakes and whose general election campaign has been defined by his constant attacks on fellow Republicans. His timing was a bit curious, competing with the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Trump also threw his support behind Arizona Senator John McCain and New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte, with whom he has sparred.
“We will have disagreements,” Trump said. “But we will disagree as friends and never stop working together toward victory.”
Ryan reiterated his support for Trump hours before the endorsement, but the Wisconsin Republican noted his support wasn’t a “blank cheque” and pledged to speak out against the businessman’s divisive positions if necessary.
Party divisions were easy to find on Friday in Wisconsin, a state that Trump’s team insists he can win in November.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker skipped the evening rally, preferring to attend an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner instead of appearing with his party’s standard bearer. Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos offered a blunt message ahead of the presidential nominee’s arrival.
“Welcome to Wisconsin, Mr. Trump, but let’s get something straight,” Vos wrote in an open letter to his GOP colleagues. “We are Ryan Republicans here in Wisconsin, not Trump Republicans.”
The Midwest mayhem underscored Trump’s mounting challenges during one of the most tumultuous weeks of his unorthodox campaign. He has skipped from one misstep to the next, sparking a fresh wave of Republican defections among long-time party loyalists who refuse to support their presidential nominee – including some who even publicly support for Democrat Clinton.
Eager to change their minds, Trump unleashed a torrent of insults at Clinton.
“If Hillary Clinton becomes president,” he said at an earlier rally in Iowa, “you will have really, in my opinion, the destruction of this country from within.”
Trump called his Democratic opponent “a dangerous liar”, “an unbalanced person”, “pretty close to unhinged”, “totally unfit to lead,” and lacking “the judgment, temperament and moral character to lead the country”.
In Wisconsin, Trump added, “She’s a monster.”
Trump’s approach to national security came under fire on Friday as well, with former CIA Director Michael Morell contending the Republican nominee would make “a poor, even dangerous
commander in chief”.
Morell, outlining his views in The New York Times, also questioned Trump’s praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation,” wrote Morell.
Trump conceded Friday he was wrong to claim repeatedly in recent days that he saw a video of a US cash payment going to Iran.
The New York billionaire has cited a US$400 million payment the US made to Iran this year, delivered on the same day that Iran released four American hostages. Trump charged on Thursday in vivid detail that the Iranian government released a video of the cash exchange to embarrass America.
“The plane I saw on television was the hostage plane in Geneva, Switzerland, not the plane carrying US$400 million in cash going to Iran!” Trump tweeted on Friday morning.