House Speaker Paul Ryan, ahead of a high-stakes sit-down with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, said Wednesday he can’t “pretend” the GOP is unified and acknowledged it will “take some work” to bring everyone together after the bruising primary.
At the same time, Ryan – who so far has declined to endorse Trump – signaled an interest in bringing all the wings of the party together.
Speaking after a closed-door meeting with other House leaders and rank-and-file members, Ryan suggested that “to pretend we’re unified as a party” would mean going into the fall election at “half-strength.” Rather, he said he needs the party to be at “full-strength” and so wants to pursue “real unification” of all factions within the GOP.
“We cannot afford to lose this election to Hillary Clinton,” Ryan said.
Rank-and-file members have been at odds over Ryan’s surprise move last week to refrain from endorsing the now-presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Some understand the speaker may not truly be ready, and also wants to check the pulse of his colleagues. Others worry that Ryan’s hesitation is costing the party valuable fundraising time – needed to prepare for an expected battle against Hillary Clinton and the Democrats in the fall.