GOP frontrunner Donald Trump thinks Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is “a very nice guy,” but “far from [his] first choice” to be the next Speaker of the House.
Trump weighed in on the race for House Speaker on Twitter Saturday morning: “Paul Ryan is far from my first choice, but a very nice guy. The Republicans should go for tough and (very) smart this time – no games!”
His tweet comes after CBS News reported that Trump said he would be “okay” with Ryan as Speaker in an interview set to air Sunday on Face the Nation.
Trump said of Ryan, who has been pressured by GOP lawmakers to enter the leadership race since House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, abruptly removed himself from consideration Thursday:
Well, I think he’s somebody that probably could get good support. I think he’s a very nice person. I think he doesn’t want it very badly, but you never know. Maybe he’s playing one of the great games of all time. It is Speaker of the House, I mean, it’s a great position. But he doesn’t seem to want it. But I’ll bet you that if it was actually offered to him, he would take it.
Trump and Ryan have gone back and forth being critical of one another in the past, particularly over immigration and budget issues.
Ryan was recently critical of Trump, calling Trump’s comments on illegal immigration “extremely disrespectful.” Earlier this summer, following Trump’s presidential announcement, The Hill reported Ryan said Trump “doesn’t speak for the Republican Party,” and “I don’t think that’s the way to have an immigration conversation.”
Additionally, in 2011 Trump went after Ryan, calling his budget a “death wish” for the GOP prior to the 2012 election.
“It is catastrophic what he’s done,” Trump told CNBC. “If they lose, it will be the single biggest reason why the Republicans lost: the Ryan plan.”
Trump said he took issue not with the content of the Ryan budget — though he declined to weigh in on that — but rather, the timing of its introduction.
“I think the worst thing [Romney] can do is strongly embrace that budget if he wants to get elected,” he said. “This will be the single worst move in the Republican Party for many years. This is going to be catastrophic.”
“Perhaps Paul Ryan is a bright guy but he is not a good chess player,” he said later, “This gentleman is not a good chess player, that’s all I can tell you.”
Ryan has said he did not want to be Speaker of the House, but he agreed by the end of the day Friday to think about it after being pressured by GOP leadership.