House Speaker Paul Ryan publicly disavowed Donald Trump’s call for a conditional ban of all Muslims entering the United States, insisting that such views are out of step with the Republican party.
“Normally I do not comment on what’s going on in the presidential election,” he said, “I will take an exception today. This is not conservatism. What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for and more importantly it’s not what this country stands for.”
Ryan made his comments during his initial remarks of the weekly Republican leadership briefing, unprompted by reporters. He said Muslim soldiers are serving in the military and dying for the country, and that there are Muslims serving in Congress.
He also pointed out that some of the “best and biggest allies” in the war on radical Islamic terrorism were Muslims. Ryan defended Muslims, insisting that the “vast, vast, vast, vast, majority of whom were peaceful” and believed in American ideals.
Ryan’s remarks make him the most powerful Republican elected official to date to publicly denounce Trump’s comments. Trump has publicly questioned Ryan’s ability to lead after John Boehner resigned as Speaker, calling him “a very nice guy,” but “far from [his] first choice” as the next Speaker.
Ryan also criticized Trump in July for making disparaging remarks about illegal immigrants calling them “extremely disrespectful” and telling reporters that the New York billionaire “doesn’t speak for the Republican Party.”
Ryan has increasingly stepped up his public persona since becoming Speaker, trying to highlight a political agenda focused primarily on economic prosperity.
But he outlined steps today to further secure the United States by promoting stronger security checks for Syrian refugees and visas and strengthening national security at the border. He stated that a “religious test” for political refugees or immigration was contrary to the founding principals of the United States.
“I am concerned about standing up for our country’s principles. These our first principles and our party is dedicated to these first principles and that’s why I think it’s incumbent upon leaders of our party like myself to stand up and defend what conservatism is and what the Republican party stands for,” Ryan added.
When asked by reporters what he would do if Trump was the Republican nominee, Ryan said he would support whoever Republican voters supported.
“I’m going to support whoever the Republican nominee is and I’m going to stand up for what I believe in as I do that,” he said.