Paul Ryan said he and Donald Trump spoke on the phone about his attacks on a federal judge, and the Speaker continued to condemn Trump’s criticism on Friday morning, calling the remarks “beyond the pale.”
“I have [spoken to Trump] and explained exactly what I thought about that comment. I said it publicly and I said it privately,” Ryan told host George Stephanopoulos.
“This is something that needs to be condemned. That comment is beyond the pale. That’s not political correctness – suggesting someone can’t do their job because of their race or ethnicity, that’s not a politically incorrect thing to do. That’s just a wrong thing to say, and I hope he gets that.”
A Ryan aide confirmed to CNN that the Speaker and Trump talked by phone on Wednesday – the source said it was Trump who called. A phone call between the two was first reported by ABC News, and comes amid a firestorm of backlash after Trump criticized the federal judge overseeing the Trump University lawsuit, Gonzalo Curiel, on the basis of his Mexican heritage.
Ryan said Friday, though, that he didn’t think Trump’s criticism reflected poorly on his character.
“I don’t know that he believes that in his heart. I don’t know what’s in his heart, but I do think, I hope and believe that he’s going to improve the tenor of the campaign, the tone and the kind of campaign that he’s going to run. I believe we need to be inspirational, aspirational and inclusive,” the Speaker said.
And Ryan, in the midst of a significant policy platform rollout, added that “we want to offer the country a clear and compelling choice…and those kind of comments get in the way of that kind of dialogue we need to have.”
Despite Ryan’s sharp rebukes of Trump, however, he maintained his support for the presumptive nominee while expressing hope that the tone of the campaign improves.
“Hopefully this won’t continue. Hopefully the campaign will move in a better direction so it can be one we can all be proud of. But here’s the point – we’ve got two choices: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. A Republican Presidency, a Democratic presidency,” Ryan said. “I certainly believe he’s better than Hillary Clinton.”
CNN’s Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.