Donald Trump still fails to secure Paul Ryan's backing after Republican crisis meeting

The two men issued a joint statement that stressed the things they agreed on

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Thursday 12 May 2016 16:06 BST
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Mr Trump travelled to Washington to meet Republican leaders
Mr Trump travelled to Washington to meet Republican leaders (AP)

It was private meeting. No cameras were allowed.

And so anyone interested in the wound that has eaten away at the Republican Party, and the talks between Paul Ryan and Donald Trump aimed at healing it, was forced to settle for the claim that “the meeting was great” and that everyone was suddenly the best of friends. Except, of course, that they are not.

A week after the most powerful elected Republican politician said he was not yet ready to endorse the party’s presumptive candidate for the White House, Mr Ryan and Mr Trump met face to face for the first time to try and repair the breach. Yet when that 30-minute meeting was over, Mr Ryan was still not ready to offer his backing to the real estate tycoon.

The two men were joined at Republican National Committee (RNC) headquarters in Washington DC by its chairman, Reince Priebus. Mr Trump later met senior Republicans from both the House and Senate and Mr Priebus took to Twitter to declare: “The meeting was great. It was a very positive step toward party unity.”

The pair also later issued a joint statement that stressed their common ground. "This was our first meeting, but it was a very positive step towards unification," it said.

Yet in remarks to reporters after the meeting, Mr Ryan still stopped short of endorsing the 69-year-old New Yorker.

"There's no secret that Donald Trump and I have had our differences. We talked about those differences today,” Mr Ryan said "I do believe we are planting the seeds in getting ourselves unified."

Mr Trump tweeted: "Great day in DC with @SpeakerRyan and Republican leadership. Things working out really well!"

Mr Ryan still failed to endorse Mr Trump
Mr Ryan still failed to endorse Mr Trump (AP)

The meeting between the two men who will be most responsible for overseeing the party’s summer convention and its campaigns this autumn, came after Mr Trump became the de facto nominee after he secured a huge victory in last week’s Indiana primary, a win that forced his sole surviving rivals, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, to drop out of the race.

His victory and his emergence as the presumptive nominee was a final blow to the Republican establishment that had sought to do all it could to block him. A number of leading conservatives said they could not bring themselves to support a nominee whose views and policies were at such variance with Republican traditions.

A number of elected Republican officials, including Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, offered their support to Mr Trump. However, Mr Ryan, who has to balance his control of an anxious, conservative House and his relationship with the party’s nominee, sought to put some space between himself and Mr Trump.

“I’m just not ready to do that at this point,” Mr Ryan told CNN last week, when asked if he was supporting Mr Trump. “I'm not there right now.”

US House Speaker Paul Ryan ‘not ready’ to back Trump

He added: “I think what is required is that we unify this party. And I think the bulk of the burden of unifying the party will have to come from our presumptive nominee.”

Mr Trump, whose campaign has been marked by his brashness and willingness to denounce the party’s hierarchy, hit back by saying he was not “ready to adopt” Mr Ryan’s agenda.

The Associated Press said that the meeting between the two men came as polls suggested Republican voters were getting behind Mr Trump. Senior Republicans have been increasingly calling for the party to end its embarrassing bout of infighting and unite to beat likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in November.

Mr Trump entered the RNC building, the venue a few blocks from the Capitol, through a side door as about a dozen protesters who oppose his immigration positions demonstrated at the front, chanting “Down, down with deportation. Up, up with liberation.”

They tried to deliver a cardboard coffin to the RNC representing the suffering of immigrants under GOP policies and what they say will be the death of the party under Trump. They were not allowed inside.

Before the meeting, Mr Ryan insisted party unity was his goal.

"We come from different wings of the party,” Mr Ryan said on Wednesday. “The goal here is to unify the various wings of the party around common principles, so that we can go forward to unify it.”

Mr Trump suggested he was less concerned about the support of Washington politicians.

“If we make a deal, that will be great,” he told Fox News. “And if we don't, we will trudge forward like I've been doing and winning all the time.”

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