US House Speaker Paul Ryan said he would be willing to step down as a chairman of the Republican convention if presumptive nominee Donald Trump asked him to do so. Ryan also clarified comments regarding his endorsement, or lack thereof, of Trump, according to reports on Monday (9 May).
"He's the nominee. I'll do whatever he wants with respect to the convention," Ryan told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The Wisconsin Republican said he hoped he and Trump can begin to get to know each other. "I just want to get to know the guy...we just don't know each other." The two are set to meet later this week.
Ryan also noted that when he said he was not ready to support Trump, he had not dismissed endorsing him altogether. "I never said never. I just said (not) at this point. I wish I had more time to get to know him before this happened. We just didn't," he said.
According to the Journal Sentinel, Ryan dismissed criticisms from former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who is a fervent Trump supporter, that he was vying for the White House in 2020. "I would not have become speaker of the House if I had 2020 aspirations. If I really wanted to run for president, I could have run in 2012 and 2016. The speaker is not exactly a good steppingstone for president. I think people who know me know that is not my aspiration," Ryan said.
Ryan, however, did run as the vice presidential running mate of 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Rumours have circulated that some within the party are considering Ryan as an outside pick, but Ryan squashed those rumours saying he was very much opposed to an independent candidacy in this year's election.
"I've made it very clear to people publicly and privately; I think an independent run by anyone would be a disaster. I think that's a bad idea," the speaker said. "We need to win the White House and keep Congress. And having an independent run by anyone would defeat that purpose—would defeat that goal."
Trump is yet to comment on Ryan's latest remarks but shot back against the speaker when he decided not to endorse him immediately. "So many great endorsements yesterday, except for Paul Ryan! We must put America first and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!," the bombastic real estate mogul tweeted on 6 May.
In an interview with NBC's Meet the Press, Trump declined to answer directly if Ryan could still stand as convention chairman if he does not endorse him. "I will give you a very solid answer if that happens....There's no reason to give it right now," he said.
Ryan, however, is not the only one who has declined to endorse the former reality TV star. Both former Bush presidents and several other Republican figures have decided to not support him, or even leave the party and support likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.