Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) said while he believes President Donald Trump’s heart was “in the right place” on race, he argued there was “more that all of us as leaders have got to do to be inclusive with people.”
Partial transcript as follows:
JOHN DICKERSON: A year ago we talked about race relations in the country and– and you said you hoped candidate — then-candidate Trump would be inclusive. You said, “He’s new at this.” It’s been a year now. How would you rate his ability to bring this country together, which has clearly– an issue–
PAUL RYAN: Well, like I said on the Charlottesville thing, it was– there were like, three comments. One of them was great, two of them– no, four comments, I think. Two good. Two bad. You know? I think, like you say like I said before, he’s learning. I know his heart’s in the right place. And–
DICKERSON: How do you know that?
RYAN: Just– I’ve had some candid conversations with him about this. Especially during that time. I’ve had some very candid conversations. And so I do really believe his heart’s in the right place. I think what matters is that we have to show people that we are an inclusive society that–that–that we want everyone to succeed. And I think there’s more that all of us as leaders have got to do to be inclusive with people and make people feel like they’re included in society. And I don’t– I think we’ve got a lot– a long ways to go, just as a society and a country for that.
DICKERSON: Here– here’s the criticism, you know it, with respect to the NFL. The president makes the case for those who see the kneeling at football games as an act of disrespect, and he argues about patriotism. He never mentions the reason that– that the players, some, have chosen to kneel and what that’s about.
DICKERSON: Should that be addressed by a national leader? Isn’t that part of the conversation?
RYAN: Well that has– we– there has been conversations. We’ve had these police shootings, Ferguson, that has been a national conversation. No two ways about it. We have — we do hearings on this. We– we’ve– I set up a task force last year after the police shootings, bipartisan task force.
DICKERSON: But, I mean, as the president–
DICKERSON: –he’s spending time on one side of the argument–
RYAN: Yeah, but I think–
DICKERSON: Suggest, in fact, holding the opposite view and being concerned–
RYAN: –But I do think he’s got a point which is– what I think a lot of people who are protesting on that don’t necessarily see is that other people see it as disrespecting the country, what it stands for, the flag and the people who died to protect it. So I think clearly people have a right to express themselves in the first amendment however they want to.
But what so many Americans, I see this at home, see is you’re disrespecting the idea of America, that we want to make this free country a more perfect union and that people have died and fought and survived to protect it. So they don’t see the point that they’re trying to make. That’s what I’m trying to say. So yes, I think we should just have separate and distinct conversations. Because when you merge it into the flag and the anthem, it’s lost.
DICKERSON: All right, Mr. Speaker. Thanks so much for being with us.
RYAN: Oh you bet. Thanks, John.
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