Paul Ryan said to supporters that although the US election had taken “some dark turns”, the Republican party represented more than its leader - an indirect reference to controversy surrounding Donald Trump.
Speaking to a crowd in Madison, Wisconsin, the house speaker addressed the “ugliness” of the recent debate.
“I know sometimes this election has taken some very dark turns, which is exactly why I think it’s important that we take a step back and reflect what this election is all about,” he said.
“Beneath all the ugliness lies a long-running debate between two governing philosophies: one that is in keeping with our nation’s founding principles, like freedom and equality, and another that seeks to replace them.”
His remarks were the closest it came to Mr Ryan addressing the slew of recent allegations against Mr Trump since the release of a 2005 video of the nominee bragging about sexual assault to former Access Hollywood anchor Billy Bush. Mr Trump dismissed the comments as "locker room talk".
In about a week, Mr Trump has since been accused by more than 10 women of sexual assault, groping, and kissing them without consent.
He has strongly denied all the allegations and threatened to sue publications like the New York Times, yet a swathe of Republicans still condemned their nominee.
Mr Ryan claimed last week that he would no longer be able to defend Mr Trump before the election, canceling their first planned campaign event together on Monday, and instead focused on the Republican party as a whole.
The deliberate absence of Mr Trump in his speech on Friday comes just four months after the house speaker officially endorsed him.
He claimed that seven out of 10 Americans "agree that our country is on the wrong path", and insisted that "progressive liberalism" was a "patronising" government strategy that sought to take away a free society, strangle the economy with rules, programmes and debt.
"We have a chance to start solving this country’s problems," he told supporters, insisting the Republican party was still about "core principles".
"In elections, we don’t just decide who our leaders will be, we get to choose what kind of country we will have for years to come and the kind of America we want is confident and determined."
He warned that Republicans had to keep control of the senate, otherwise Bernie Sanders would be leading the treasury committee, raising some eyebrows from the people sat behind him in the crowd.
Big Republican donors have demanded the party drop Mr Trump, yet few politicians have dropped their endorsements of the nominee.Reuse content