U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), speaks while flanked by Bishop Shirley Holloway at the Graceview Apartments, June 7, 2016 in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
By Katie Reilly
June 7, 2016

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan criticized Donald Trump’s comments about Judge Gonzalo Curiel on Tuesday, calling them “indefensible.”

“Claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment,” Ryan said.

Read Ryan’s complete remarks from a question-and-answer session after an unrelated press conference he held in Washington, D.C.:

RYAN: Questions?

QUESTION: (inaudible) Mr. Trump has been attacking Judge Curiel and his Mexican heritage (inaudible). Do you have any regrets about (inaudible)?

RYAN: I disavow these — I regret those comments that he made. I don’t think — claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment. I think that should be absolutely disavowed. It’s absolutely unacceptable.

But do I believe that Hillary Clinton is the answer? No, I do not. Do I believe that Hillary Clinton is going to be the answer to solving these problems? I do not. I believe that we have more common ground on the policy issues of the day and we have more likelihood of getting our policies enacted with him than we do with her.

But I do absolutely disavow those comments. I think they’re wrong. I don’t think they’re right-headed and the thinking behind it is something I don’t even personally relate to. But at the end of the day, this is about ideas. This is about moving our agenda forward and that’s why we’re moving the way we’re moving.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

RYAN: I do think these kinds of comments undercut these things and I’m not going to even pretend (ph) to defend them. I’m going to defend our ideas, I’m going to defend our agenda. What — what matters to us most is our principles and the policies that come from those principles and our ability to give the people of this country a better way forward. A better way is what we’re up to here and we believe we have a better likelihood of passing than we would with a President Clinton.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

RYAN: In public.

QUESTION: (inaudible) said at the time that he would (inaudible) and talk about poverty (inaudible). (inaudible) wondering (inaudible)? Second, have you talked specifically about (inaudible)?

RYAN: I haven’t talked to him about — about where he should campaign. I have discussed to him — with him the tone of his campaign, the ideas, and we have had an exhaustive discussion about these policies. Not just our teams, but ourselves personally.

We’ve talked about welfare to work, we’ve talked about this agenda and the policies in — contained in this agenda, and that is why I believe that we are far better off advancing these policies, getting them in law with his candidacy than we clearly are with the Hillary Clinton candidacy.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

RYAN: I — I just fundamentally disagree with that. I think it’s wrong. The way I look at this is if you say something that’s wrong, I think the mature and responsible thing is to acknowledge it was wrong.

QUESTION: Does his campaign need help (inaudible)?

RYAN: I’m not going to comment on that. We’ve got — we’ve got enough work to do here in the House than to comment about people running their campaigns.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

RYAN: I don’t know what’s in his heart, but I think that comment itself is defined that way. So I am not going to defend these kinds of comments because they’re indefensible. I’m going to defend our ideas, I’m going to defend our majority. And I think our likelihood of getting these ideas into law are far more likely if we are unified as a party, and so I see it as my job as speaker of the House to help keep our party unified.

I think if we go into the fall as a divided party, we are — we are doomed to lose, and that is why I’m going to be focusing on these ideas, these solutions and not attempt to try and defend in the indefensible.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

RYAN: Thank you so much.

(LAUGHTER)

I told Shirley, I’m like ten to one, they’re going to be answering these questions.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

RYAN: No, I think it’s — I think that will actually do more harm than good in so many instances, because what it does is it prices entry level jobs away from people. Look, I started at McDonald’s in the — in the quarter grill (ph) at McDonald’s at minimum wage and it was a great way to learn skills.

The problem is when you price jobs out of — out of place from people who are starting, they’re not going to get a start. There are far better ways of helping economic growth. There are so many things contained in this reform plan that shows a better way to get people up and on their feet.

Look, remember this is one of six things we’re going to be rolling out. The rest of our agenda is going to be dealing with getting a faster growing economy, having more upward mobility (ph), having more take home pay. And there are better ways of achieving economic growth and upward mobility (ph) than reform that the CBO says will — could cost millions of jobs.

QUESTION: (inaudible) minimum wage seven dollars an hour, give or take. That isn’t enough to survive…

RYAN: That’s exactly right.

QUESTION: How is restricting or keeping a cap on minimum wage able to help people lift (ph) out of poverty?

RYAN: We’re not keeping a cap on minimum wage. The whole point is having an economy that bids (ph) up wages. The whole purpose of our agenda is not capping wages, it’s unleashing wages and it’s having the kind of economy and economic growth and the kind of skills training, the kind of education, the kind of welfare to work programs that help get people better jobs in a better economy that has more promising future for them. That’s what this is all about.

Thank you very much.

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