House Speaker Paul Ryan would back out of chairing the Republican National Convention in July, if Donald Trump asks him to, his office confirmed Monday.
Ryan first made the comments to a home-town paper, telling the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “He’s the nominee. I’ll do whatever he wants with respect to the convention.”
The two are set to meet Thursday in Washington, after Ryan told CNN last week he was “just not ready” to throw support behind Trump, after rivals Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich both suspended their campaigns making Trump the presumptive Republican nominee.
Trump will also meet that same day with Senate Republican leaders. Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said the meeting will take place at the National Republican Senatorial Committee near the Capitol at 11:45 a.m.
Trump said Ryan’s comments “blindsided” him.
Trump responded with a statement saying he wasn’t “ready” to embrace Ryan’s agenda.
Ryan repeated that he did not rule out supporting Trump in the future, but had concerns he wanted addressed first.
“I never said never. I just said (not) at this point,” Ryan told the Journal Sentinel. “I just want to get to know the guy … We just don’t know each other.”
And Ryan said that he wasn’t in the camp pushing for a third-party candidate to run against Trump.
That “would be a disaster for our party,” Ryan told the Journal Sentinel. “I have communicated that to plenty of people.”
Ryan is scheduled to preside over the GOP convention in Cleveland in July as part of his role as House speaker. He said even though he’s not ready to back Trump, he would continue to fill that role regardless.
One of Trump’s highest profile surrogates, Sarah Palin, announced on Sunday that she would back Ryan’s primary challenger in Wisconsin.
“I think Paul Ryan is soon to be ‘Cantored,’ as in Eric Cantor,” Palin said, referring to the former Republican House majority leader who was ousted in a shocking upset in his 2014 Virginia primary race.
Asked about Palin’s comments on CNN, Trump called Palin “very much a free agent” and said he wasn’t aware of her plans to back Ryan’s opponent.