A few months ago, House Speaker Paul Ryan insisted that he was “not ready to do that right now” when asked if he would endorse Donald Trump for president. Though Ryan ultimately came around to give Trump that endorsement, the billionaire has apparently not forgotten those weeks of disrespect from the most powerful man in the Republican Party. On Tuesday, Trump turned the tables on Ryan in an interview with the Washington Post.
“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 yet. I’m not quite there yet,” said Trump.
Ryan is almost certainly going to win next Tuesday, but his opponent – businessman Paul Nehlen – is an outspoken Trump supporter. Nehlen was one of the few Republican politicians willing to come to Trump’s defense in the whole Khizr Khan situation, earning him a public thanks from the GOP nominee.
Ryan’s camp bristled at the suggestion that the House Speaker had sought Trump’s support. “Neither Speaker Ryan nor anyone on this team has ever asked for Donald Trump’s endorsement,” Ryan’s team said in a statement. “And we are confident in a victory next week regardless.”
Trump said he was also deliberating as to whether he should offer an endorsement to New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Arizona Sen. John McCain. Of McCain, Trump said, “He has not done a good job for the vets and I’ve always felt that he should have done a much better job for the vets. So I’ve always had a difficult time with John for that reason, because our vets are not being treated properly.”
If there’s one certain thing about Trump, it’s that he values loyalty above all else. All three of the above-mentioned Republicans have offered the nominee an endorsement of one kind or another, but they have also been very outspoken in their criticism of the billionaire. All three have slammed Trump publicly in recent days for his ongoing feud with the Khan family, and these comments likely played a role in Trump’s remarks. This is a man who does not like to be crossed.
Some of it is probably personal, but that’s not the only way to look at it. Trump takes seriously the honor bestowed upon him by more than 10 million voters, and he knows those voters did not choose him so that he could turn into a puppet of the Republican establishment. Unity is one thing; subservience is another. By withholding his endorsements, Trump is telling his supporters that he will never betray them just to be part of the Washington club.