Speaker Paul Ryan previewed his meeting with presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump on Capitol Hill tomorrow, reminding reporters that he didn’t really know the controversial billionaire.
“I don’t really know him,” Ryan said during a Republican leadership press conference on Capitol Hill. “I met him once in person in 2012, We had a very good conversation in March on the phone.”
Ryan said he and the other House Republican leaders looked forward to meeting Trump.
“We just need to get to know each other, and we as a leadership team are enjoying the fact that we have a chance to meet with him,” Ryan said, referring to the upcoming meeting.
When asked to preview his message to Trump, Ryan chose not to share any details.
“I’d rather have a conversation in person than through the media, no offense,” he said.
Last week, Ryan surprised Trump supporters after he revealed on CNN that he was not ready to support Trump yet.
A source from Ryan’s office revealed that the speaker will be unlikely to endorse Trump after the meeting on Thursday, which staff has described as the beginning of a conversation.
When asked about the differences the Speaker had with Trump on controversial policies such as trade and immigration, Ryan denied that it would be a problem in the upcoming election.
“This is a big tent party, there is plenty of room for different policy disputes in this party,” he said.
But Ryan acknowledged that he was in a “different wing” of the party than Trump.
“We come from different wings of the party,” he said. “The goal here is to unify the various wings of the party around common principles so we can go forward unified.”
Ryan said that to “pretend” there was Republican unity after a “bruising” primary would mean the party would face Hillary Clinton at “half strength.”
“This election is too important … that means we need a real unification of our party, which after a tough primary it’s going to take some effort. We are committed to putting that effort in,” he said. “I want to be part of that unifying process.”