Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, in just a matter of three days, has changed his mind and decided to endorse Speaker Paul D. Ryan ahead of his August 9 primary.
“In our shared mission to make America great again, I support and endorse our speaker of the House Paul Ryan,” Trump said Friday evening at a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, a few hours north of the 1st congressional district that Ryan represents.
“He’s a good man and he’s a good guy,” Trump added. “And we may disagree on a couple of things, but we mostly agree. And we’re going to get it done and we’re going to do a lot of wonderful things.”
While Trump was offering endorsements and trying to make amends with Republicans he’s offended, he said he fully supports and endorses Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.
“I hold in the highest esteem Senator John McCain for his service to our country in uniform and in public office,” Trump said. “And I fully support and endorse his reelection.
“I also fully support and endorse Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, a state I truly love,” he said. “She’s a rising start and will continue to represent the great people of new Hampshire so very well for a long, long time.”
Trump noted in his speech that the Republican Party needs to be united and that he needs a Republican House and Senate to accomplish the changes he’s proposing. “Working and in hand we will grow our majority in the house and the Senate,” he said.
On Tuesday, Trump said in an interview with The Washington Post that he wasn’t ready to support Ryan and complimented his opponent for running a good campaign.
“I like Paul, but these are horrible times for our country,” Trump said in the interview. “We need very strong leadership. We need very, very strong leadership. And I’m just not quite there yet.”
Trump also told the Post that he has “always had a difficult time” with McCain because he felt he had not done enough for veterans and criticized Ayotte for not wanting to associate with him despite how well he did in New Hampshire.
Trump’s change of heart is likely more about helping himself than helping Ryan, McCain or Ayotte. Ryan had never asked for the GOP nominee’s endorsement and was not given a heads up that one was coming on Friday, according to a campaign aide.
Wisconsin is one of the swing states that Trump is hoping to win in November, after losing to Ted Cruz there in the April 5 primary. A Marquette Law School Poll taken July 7-10 showed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton with a 6-point advantage over Trump. Trump, who has lower favorability numbers than Ryan in the state, according to the Marquette poll, is likely switching his tune on Ryan to help his improve his chances in Wisconsin.
Ryan also initially withheld his support of Trump after the billionaire mogul became the presumptive nominee in May. His decision to endorse Trump nearly a month later seemed opportunistically designed as well, since it came the week before he began rolling out the House GOP’s “A Better Way” policy agenda that he is hoping a potential President Trump would support.
Trump has said positive things about aspects of Ryan’s agenda, like the poverty plank, but still has not explicitly offered his commitment to helping House Republicans implement it in 2017.
Ryan’s opponent, Wisconsin businessman and inventor Paul Nehlen, issued a statement Friday suggesting that Trump’s endorsement Friday is out of party obligation, not a true preference of Ryan over him.
“Given his stature as our party’s official nominee, Mr. Trump’s decision to support the Republican Speaker is appropriate and is a display of true leadership,” Nehlen said. “Mr. Trump’s early refusal to endorse Ryan sent a clear signal to Wisconsin voters that Ryan is not his preferred candidate in this race.”
Despite Trump choosing to endorse his opponent, Nehlen is still trying to seize on the GOP nominee’s star power and media draw.
Nehlen left the 1
district Friday to travel up to Green Bay, in the 8
district. After Trump spoke at the KI Convention Center, Nehlen held his own media availability outside.