Speaker Paul Ryan challenged Donald Trump to “reject” groups like the Klu Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups and leaders like David Duke who have signaled support for Trump’s campaign.
Ryan referred to a Trump interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday where the frontrunner failed to denounce the KKK.
“The conversation over the last few days has been about white supremacist groups,” Ryan said. “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’s statement follows in the vein of many party leaders who have criticized Trump in recent days — even though Trump has subsequently disavowed endorsements from people like David Duke. Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney also criticized Trump on Twitter for failing to denounce the KKK.
A disqualifying & disgusting response by @realDonaldTrump to the KKK. His coddling of repugnant bigotry is not in the character of America.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) February 29, 2016
Ryan, his former running mate, echoed the Massachusetts Governor’s criticisms, but did not say that Trump’s comments were “disqualifying.”
“This party does not prey on people’s prejudices. We appeal to their highest ideals,” Ryan said. “This is the Party of Lincoln. We believe all people are created equal in the eyes of God and our government. This is fundamental, and if someone wants to be our nominee, they must understand this.”
When asked if he would support the Republican nominee, even if it was Donald Trump, Ryan indicated that he would.
“I plan to support the nominee,” he said.