House Speaker Paul Ryan told CNN’s Jake Tapper Thursday he could not endorse or support Donald Trump at the present moment.
“I am just not ready to do that at this point,” he said.
He added that he “hoped” and “wanted” to support Trump.
“What is required is that we unify the party, and I think the bulk of the burden of unifying the party will have to come from our presumptive nominee,” he said.
Ryan went on to congratulate Trump for “what he accomplished” in the primary.
“But he also inherits something very special,” Ryan said. “This is the party of Lincoln, of Reagan, of Jack Kemp, and we don’t always nominate a Lincoln or a Reagan every four years, but we hope that our nominee aspires to be Lincoln and Reagan-esque.”
Ryan seemed to set the terms for Trump by calling for a nominee that “advances the principles” of the Republican Party and “appeals to a wide, vast majority of Americans.”
“Saying that we’re unified doesn’t in and of itself unify us,” Ryan said. “But actually taking the principles that we all believe in, showing that there’s a dedication to those and running a principled campaign that the Republicans can be proud about, and that can actually appeal to the majority of Americans, that to me is what it takes to unify this party.”
Ryan also said he expected the primary race to go on longer than it did, perhaps all the to the convention.
“Conservatives want to know, does he share our values and our principles, on limited government, the proper role of the executive, adherence to the constitution,” Ryan said. “There are lots of questions conservatives are going to want answers to, myself included.”
Ryan wouldn’t say what specifically was keeping him from supporting Trump, telling Tapper, “I was pretty clear and I was outspoken on a number of occasions where I think that he did the wrong thing or said the wrong thing.”
He also made clear that his withholding of support for Trump did not mean he would support Clinton.
“I think yeah, we can beat Hillary Clinton,” Ryan said. “Yes I think it’s possible and it needs to be possible because so much is at stake.”
He also dodged Tapper’s question about whether Ryan would be able to manage the GOP convention of chairman of the convention if Trump hadn’t earned his support by then.
“I am just a guy giving you my piece of my mind. I am a lifelong conservative, who feels passionate about these principles and how they’re necessary to save the country and get us on the right track,” Ryan said.