U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan said on Thursday that his support of Donald Trump was “not a blank check,” in response to the Republican presidential candidate’s refusal to endorse him.
Ryan spoke on The Jerry Bader Show on WTAQ in Wisconsin a couple of days after Trump echoed the speaker’s comments in May when he said he was “just not ready” to endorse Trump.
“I like Paul,” Trump told the Washington Post on Aug. 2, before Ryan faces off in a primary against Wisconsin businessman Paul Nehlen.
“But these are horrible times for our country. We need very strong leadership. We need very, very strong leadership. And I’m just not quite there. I’m not quite there yet,” said Trump.
Ryan, who endorsed Trump in June, said it was important to take into consideration the will of the primary voters, and that he will speak up when he disagrees with Trump.
“We are a party where the grassroots Republican primary voter selects our nominee and that’s as it should be and that it what it is. I think there’s something to be said about respecting those voters,” Ryan said.
“But if I see and hear things that I think are wrong, I’m not going to sit by and say nothing because I think I have a duty as a Republican leader to defend Republican principles and our party’s brand,” said the speaker.
Ryan also said he was surprised Trump wasn’t focusing on attacking his Democratic opponent following the Republican National Convention.
“You would think we ought to be focusing on Hillary Clinton and all of her deficiencies, she is such a weak candidate that one would think we would be on offense against Hillary Clinton,” said Ryan.
While Trump has not endorsed Ryan, his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, endorsed the speaker a day after the presidential candidate’s comments.
Ryan talked about his long-time friendship with Pence during the interview on Thursday. He also emphasized that he only cared about endorsements from those in the first congressional district and of his own employers.
While Ryan did endorse Trump, he has on several occasions criticized the candidate, including after Trump’s remarks on the family of a fallen Muslim-American army captain. The speaker defended his stance on the feud during the interview.
“You do nothing but honor Gold Star families,” Ryan said. “And if anyone’s earned the right to say whatever they want, to express themselves, it is Gold Star families.”
Speaker Paul Ryan tells Jerry @Jerrybadershow stands by criticism of Trump on Gold Star family
— Jerry Bader (@Jerrybadershow) August 4, 2016
In a statement released on Sunday, Ryan said, “Many Muslim Americans have served valiantly in our military and made the ultimate sacrifice … Capt. Khan was one such brave example. His sacrifice—and that of Khizr and Ghazala Khan—should always be honored. Period.”
Trump also declined to endorse Sen. John McCain who’s in a tighter race than Ryan for his seat in Arizona. Like Ryan, McCain endorsed Trump, but has also criticized the candidate’s comments about the Khan family.