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Read Paul Ryan’s Comments About His Meeting With Donald Trump

13 minute read

At a press conference following his meeting with Donald Trump on Thursday, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan called their exchange “encouraging” and said the process of unifying the party would take more time.

Ryan, who still did not endorse presumptive nominee Trump, said the two will need to work to find common ground amid policy disputes.

Here are Ryan’s remarks from his weekly press conference Thursday at the U.S. Capitol.

[*] RYAN: Good afternoon.

Oh, excuse me. Good morning. Right now, more Americans die every year from drug overdoses than they do in car accidents. Let me say that again. We have got more of our fellow citizens dying every year from drug overdoses than they die of car accidents.

Today, the House continues to work on legislation to address the heroin and opioid epidemic across this country. And for those of you who were at our press conference yesterday, you heard from Susan Brooks and Bob Dold, authors of two of these initiatives. All told, by the end of this week, we are acting on 18 bills to deal with this. I’ll actually be signing (ph) one of them today. It is S. 32, the Transnational Drug Trafficking Act.

This allows prosecutors to go after drug traffickers in foreign countries if we believe their drugs will make it to our shores. So that is going to the president’s desk today.

But one reason we call this an epidemic is because it cuts across all demographics. It affects families everywhere in America. Take youth athletes. Youth athletes get injured and then they’re prescribed some medication. Before they know it, they are on the path to dependency and addiction. Yesterday, we passed a bill introduced by Pat Meehan of Pennsylvania to help families and students deal with these dangers.

You can also be born with a dependency. This is the saddest story of them all. That actually happens every 25 minutes in this country. These babies struggle to eat or even breathe. Yesterday, we passed a bill introduced by Evan Jenkins of West Virginia to help protect infants and to make sure that they get a healthy start.

The next step here is that we will take all of these bills we are passing out of the House and go to a conference committee with the Senate. Then we intend to send the bills to the president’s desk. And I hope that each and every one of you will be back here when we sign this bill. This opioid epidemic is something that we have to get on top of. I am very proud of the Republicans and Democrats that have come together to address this situation because this really is about people’s lives. It is about whole communities that are being torn apart. And I believe we can win this fight and we must.


QUESTION: Mr. Speaker, thank you.

I’ve been reading the joint statement that you and Mr. Trump put out a few minutes ago. And I know this is the first meeting, but all I can divine out of that statement is that you just want to beat Hillary Clinton. You’re having trouble…


RYAN: That is true. We do want to beat Hillary Clinton.

QUESTION: But that can’t be the only point of unity here. You’ve having trouble passing a budget here in the House. What makes you think you can get on board with some of the things that Donald Trump is talking about when it comes to (inaudible)?

RYAN: Let me — let me say this. I think we had a very encouraging meeting. Look, it’s no secret that Donald Trump and I have had our differences. We talked about those differences today. That’s common knowledge.

The question is: What is it that we need to do to unify the Republican Party and all strains of conservative wings in the party? We had a very good and encouraging, productive conversation on just how to do that.

RYAN: It was important that we discussed our differences that we have. But it’s also important that we discussed the core principles that tie us all together; principles like the Constitution, the separation of powers, the fact that we have an executive that has gone way beyond the boundaries of the Constitution, and how it’s important to us that we restore Article I of the Constitution.

You know, it’s the principle of self-government. We talked about life and how strongly we feel about this core principle. We talked about the Supreme Court and things like this.

I was very encouraged with what I heard from Donald Trump today. I do believe that we are now planting the seeds to get ourselves unified, to bridge the gaps and differences. And so from here, we are going to go deeper into the policy areas to see where that common ground and how we can make sure that we are operating off the same core principles.

And so, yes, I am — this is our first meeting. I was very encouraged with this meeting, but this is a process. It takes a little time. You don’t put it together in 45 minutes.

So that is why we had, like I said, a very good start to a process on how we unify.

QUESTION: But that said, you don’t — you don’t think that it’s an issue of — of…

RYAN: Jonathan — Jonathan.

QUESTION: So, Mr. Speaker, I read that statement as well. And I’m still left a little confused. Are you endorsing Donald Trump?

RYAN: Look…

QUESTION: If you’re not, what is holding you back? And do you really have a choice? I mean, you’ve ruled out voting for Hillary Clinton, endorsing her.

RYAN: The — the process of unifying the Republican Party, which just finished a primary about a week ago — perhaps one of the most divisive primaries in memory — takes some time.

Look, there are people who were for Donald Trump, who were for Ted Cruz, or for John Kasich, who were for Marco Rubio and everybody else. And it’s very important that we don’t fake unifying, we don’t pretend unification, that we truly and actually unify, so that we are full strength in the fall.

I don’t want us to have a fake unification process here. I want to make sure that we really, truly understand each other and that we are committed to the conservative principles that make the Republican Party, that built this country. And again, I’m very encouraged.

I heard a lot of good things from our presumptive nominee, and we exchanged differences of opinion on a number of things that, you know, everybody knows we have. There are policy disputes that we will have. There’s no two ways about it. Plenty of Republicans disagree with one another on policy disputes.

But on core principles, those are the kinds of things we discussed. And again, I’m encouraged.

Craig (ph)?

QUESTION: Do you expect to endorse him?

RYAN: Yeah, I think this is going in a positive direction. And I think this was a first, very encouraging meeting. But again, in 45 minutes you don’t litigate all of the process and of the issues and principles that we are talking about.

QUESTION: Did you offer any — did he offer any…

RYAN: I didn’t catch that.

QUESTION: Yeah. Did he offer any assurances that he would change or moderate his tone on the campaign?

RYAN: Look, I think it’s important that the kind of conversation we had is between the two of us. And no offense, I don’t want to litigate our conversation through the media, because I think when you’re beginning to get to know someone, you have a good conversation of trust between each other.

So, I want to keep the things we discussed between the two of us, because they were very important and they were personal in some senses. And that means we talked about what it takes to unify, where our differences were and how we can bridge these gaps going forward, so that we are strong as a party going into the fall.

QUESTION: Speaker…

QUESTION: Mr. Speaker, you talked about…

RYAN: Let me get Juan (ph).

QUESTION: Speaker, did Mr. Trump reiterate his desire to see you as the chairman of the convention in Cleveland? And is that a role that you still want?

RYAN: He did. I am the speaker of the House. I am happy to serve in this capacity at the chair of our convention, if our presumptive nominee wants us to do so. I see that as — it’s the delegates who technically make that decision, but I would honor the decision of our presumptive nominee. And hid he express that interest.

Read more: Paul Ryan Says He Would Step Down As Convention Chair If Trump Wants

QUESTION: Speaker…

QUESTION: Mr. Speaker…

RYAN: Mark (ph).

QUESTION: To what extent, based on his past statements and what he said today do you think he’s committed to reducing, as you are, the scope and size…

RYAN: Yeah, so…

QUESTION: … and — and what did you think of his personality?

RYAN: His personality, I thought was — I thought he has a very good personality. He’s a very warm and genuine person.

Like I said, I met him for 30 seconds in 2012. So, we really don’t know each other. And we started to get to know each other. So, I actually had a very pleasant exchange with him. That’s point number one. Point number two, look, there are just things we really believe in as conservatives.

We believe in limited government. We believe in the Constitution. We believe in the proper role of the differences in the separation of powers. We believe in things like life. I know we are — not everyone is pro-choice in our party, and we accept all comers. But we are a majority pro-life party.

And these are things that are important to us. And so, we just had a good exchange of views on these kinds of issues. I think he’s over having the same conversation with the Senate right now.

Our leaders met with him, and everybody expressed opinions and exchanged ideas. And so the point of this is, I think we are off to an encouraging start.

It is important that we get ourselves to full strength so we can win in the fall, because the stakes could not be higher. But it takes more than 45 minutes, Mark (ph).


QUESTION: The size of the government. You’re someone who’s committed to…

RYAN: We discussed — we discussed those issues at great detail.

QUESTION: Mr. Speaker, you have defined modern conservatism along the lines of entitlement reform, pro-trade and immigration built on the Muslim ban and dealing with the issue comprehensively, those who are not Muslims. When you say few problems in this joint statements, aren’t you papering over these rather sizable differences in not only how conservatism is defined broadly, but how you have tried to define it for this House of Congress?

RYAN: Right. So I represent a wing of a conservative party, you could say. He brings — he’s bringing a whole new wing to it. He’s bringing new voters that we’ve never had for decades. That’s a positive thing. The point though is, can we agree on the common core principle that is unite all of us?

We will have policy disputes. There is no two ways about that. All Republicans — Mitt Romney and I didn’t agree on everything in 2012. So we will have policy disputes. I’m not interested in litigating the past. I’m interested in going forward and seeing where that common ground exists to make sure that we can have a unified Republican party.

That yes, there will be different Republicans that have different views of various policy ideas. The question is, can we unify on the common core principles that make our party – and by the way – the principles that built this country. And I’m very encouraged that the answer to that question is yes.

QUESTION: Do you intend to endorse before the convention?

QUESTION: Mr. Speaker?

QUESTION: Do you intend to endorse before the convention Mr. Speaker?

RYAN: I have one more of here.

QUESTION: Hi, Speaker Ryan. Sorry to delay you.


QUESTION: He could speak even louder.

QUESTION: You just mentioned the millions of new voters. That means bringing in new people. I was wondering how you actually interpret his success. Is it going to mean the — fundamental realignment of the party because of these new voters that he’s bringing in? Just how do you interpret his success?

RYAN: It’s really kind of unparalleled by the way. He has gotten more votes than any Republican primary nominee in — Mark, right — in the history of our country. And this isn’t even over yet. He hasn’t even gone to like, California yet. So, it’s really a remarkable achievement. So, the question is — and this is what we think we can be a party to helping — how do we unify it all, so this is really a big and growing movement?

How do we keep adding and adding voters while not subtracting any voters? And to me, that means a positive vision based on core principles, taking those principles, applying them to the problems facing our country today, and offering people positive solutions. And speaking to people where they are in life. Addressing their anxieties, and show that we have a better plan.

Look, here’s what we agree on. Hillary Clinton presidency would be a disaster for this country. It’s effectively a third Obama term. And the other thing we all know is, most Americans do not like where this country is headed. Seven out of 10 Americans think America is on the wrong track. We agree with that.

So the question is, can we unify around our common principles to offer the country a compelling and clear choice and an agenda going forward, so that the men and women of this nation get a real and honest choice about how to fix this country and get us on a better track? And I am very encouraged that we can put that together.

QUESTION: Speaker?

RYAN: I’ve got one more in the back.

QUESTION: Thanks for calling us sitting in the cheap seats.

RYAN: Yes, you got here late.

QUESTION: After your statement last week on CNN, Donald trump said he was not ready to support your agenda. Did he change his mind today? Does he — I hear you talk about a confident America agenda and does he say he’s supportive of that?

RYAN: We’ve spent — we talked about all these issues. And our policy teams are meeting to just walk through details. So, again, this is a process. We just began the process. I’m very encouraged at the first meeting of this process. And going forward, we are going to go a little deeper into the policy weeds to make sure that we have a better understanding of one another.

QUESTION: Mr. Speaker?

RYAN: Thank you very much, everybody.

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