Pence distances self from Trump, backs House Speaker Ryan

Pence distances self from Trump, backs House Speaker Ryan

Washington, Aug 4 (IANS) Republican Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence on Wednesday distanced himself from Donald Trump and expressed his “strong” support for House Speaker Paul Ryan, who is running for re-election to his Wisconsin congressional seat.

The real estate magnate’s decision not to back Ryan’s candidacy, or that of Arizona Senator John McCain, another GOP heavyweight who is running for re-election, was severely criticised on Tuesday by the Republican Party. EFE news reported.

On Wednesday, Pence, who is the Governor of Indiana, told Fox News that Ryan is an old friend and said that he is a “strong conservative leader”, who — if re-elected — will do “great things”.

“I strongly support Paul Ryan, strongly endorse his re-election,” Pence said. “He’s a long-time friend. He’s a strong conservative leader. I believe we need Paul Ryan in leadership.”

In an interview with The Washington Post, the controversial GOP presidential nominee had refused to endorse Ryan in the party primaries, breaking with US political tradition and highlighting the ongoing division within the party.

“I like Paul. 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,” Trump had said.

The words Trump chose in refusing to back Ryan are similar to those Ryan used to deny his support to the New York businessman in an interview the speaker gave in May, but later he ended up giving in and endorsing him.

Trump even praised Paul Nehlen, Ryan’s rival in the Republican primaries, EFE news reported.

Despite having finally given Trump his support, since then Ryan has frequently criticised the magnate for his statements and behaviour, the latest instance coming last week after the billionaire got into a verbal duel with the parents of a US Muslim Army captain, who was killed in Iraq in 2004, after the soldier’s father criticised Trump in a speech before the Democratic National Convention.

The show of unity by Republicans at their own national convention two weeks ago in Cleveland seems to be breaking down with the continuing controversies arising from Trump’s remarks, and in recent days several key GOP figures have announced that they will be voting for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in the November election.

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