Donald Trump applauds during a campaign rally at Briar Woods High School, on Aug. 2, 2016 in Ashburn, Va.
Evan Vucci—AP
By Melissa Chan
Updated: August 2, 2016 6:26 PM ET

Donald Trump said in a new interview that he won’t necessarily back House Speaker Paul Ryan or Arizona Sen. John McCain in their upcoming primary elections, a striking rebuke from the Republican presidential nominee just a couple weeks after a GOP convention that was meant to be a display of party unity.

Trump, who has been under fire from top Republicans amid an ongoing public feud with the family of a fallen Muslim soldier, made the comments during an interview with the Washington Post. He said he is “not quite there yet” on backing Ryan, an echo of the words Ryan used when he hesitated to endorse Trump earlier this year.

“I like Paul, but these are horrible times for our country,” Trump said. “We need very strong leadership. We need very, very strong leadership. And I’m just not quite there yet. I’m not quite there yet.”

Ryan, the Republican Party’s highest-ranking elected official, is facing a primary challenge in his Wisconsin congressional district, as is McCain in Arizona. Both have sided with Khizr Khan and his wife Ghazala amid withering attacks from Trump—but both have pointedly done so without retracting their endorsements of Trump.

Trump’s comments followed public praise Monday on Twitter of Ryan’s primary challenger, Paul Nehlen. The primary takes place next Tuesday.

Trump said Ryan has asked for is support, and that he is only “giving it very serious consideration.” A Ryan spokesman denied that on Tuesday.

 

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