Paul Ryan continued to withhold his support from Donald Trump

By Susan Cornwell. WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Paul Ryan, the top U.S. elected Republican, on Wednesday continued to withhold his support from Donald Trump for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, saying he is not ready to endorse the real estate billionaire, a political neophyte. Google+

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan speaks to reporters in the U.S.Capitol in Washington, U.S. May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan speaks to reporters in the U.S.Capitol in Washington, U.S. May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Ryan, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, brushed aside reports that he was ready to endorse Trump during a meeting with reporters in the Capitol. “I haven’t made a decision,” he said, adding that he had no timetable for doing so.

The 46-year-old speaker is the only member of the Republican congressional leadership who has not formally embraced the presumptive Republican nominee. Ryan is expected to chair the party’s nominating convention in July in Cleveland.

Ryan and Trump were, however, scheduled to speak by telephone on Wednesday evening, a spokesman for Ryan said. “This is not an endorsement call,” spokesman Zack Roday said.

Ryan set up the call with Trump to continue discussing the party’s campaign agenda, a Ryan aide said.

Trump’s ascent has shaken the party establishment and raised concerns among some Republicans over whether they can unify behind him, given his harsh rhetoric and shifting policy positions in a brutal primary fight that once had 17 candidates.

Ryan was asked Wednesday about Trump’s comment this week that New Mexico Republican Governor Susana Martinez, who had declined to attend a Trump rally, was not doing her job.

Ryan said Martinez was a “great governor” and “a friend of mine,” and said he would leave it at that.

Ryan said his staff and Trump’s were in contact virtually daily.

“I want this to be a sincere deliberative process,” Ryan said. He dismissed suggestions that the Trump campaign was trying to pressure him, saying, “I don’t worry about that stuff.”

The speaker faces some pressure from inside his party to smooth things over and form a united front against likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in November.

Ryan’s statement earlier this month that he was not ready to support Trump was unusual and seen as an effort to keep some distance from Trump and protect Ryan’s own presidential prospects for 2020.

Ryan said his staff and the Trump campaign have been discussing a wide-ranging policy agenda for the campaign, covering issues from healthcare to taxes and national security.

Ryan said the policy agenda on poverty will be announced in the first week of June, with more details later in the month. He said the agenda was for 2017 and would feature “the kind of things that you can get done only with a Republican president.”

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Leslie Adler and Jonathan Oatis)

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