Pence Won’t Say If Paul Ryan Should Be Re-Elected As House Speaker

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Late update 4:35 p.m.:

Bloomberg reporter Kevin Cirilli tweeted Thursday afternoon that a spokesman for Pence told him that the Indiana governor “100 percent supports Paul Ryan to be reelected.”

Original story below:

Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence dodged questions in an interview published Thursday about whether or not he thinks House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) should keep his job.

Pence refused three times to answer whether he believes Ryan should be re-elected, according to a report by the National Review.

“My respect for Paul Ryan is boundless,” he told the Review twice. “I’m not a member of the House Republican conference anymore. I wouldn’t presume upon what the members of the conference choose.”

According to the Review, one of Pence’s senior advisers later explained that if Pence was still a member of Congress, he would vote to re-elect Ryan.

In August, Pence broke with running mate Donald Trump to endorse Ryan in his primary election. “I believe we need Paul Ryan in leadership in the Congress of the United States,” Pence said in a national appearance on Fox News.

Since then, relations between Ryan and Trump have become considerably chillier. After the release in October of a 2005 tape in which Trump bragged about grabbing women by the genitals, Ryan announced that he would not campaign with Trump.

Trump responded by accusing Ryan of “total disloyalty” to the Republican Party in a speech to donors at a private fundraiser and suggested that the speaker “ought to focus on running the government” rather than commenting on the presidential election.

Ryan has faced a schism within his own conference and opposition from the House Freedom Caucus, which drove his predecessor, former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), out of office after years of conflict over government funding legislation.

Most recently, the Freedom Caucus refused in August to back a bill pushed by Ryan aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists. Caucus member Rep. David Brat (R-VA) accused Ryan of caving to “political pressure” from House Democrats who staged a sit-in to demand action on gun control after a mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

According to a Politico report, members of the House Freedom Caucus discussed the possibility of backing Ryan for re-election in exchange for a low-ranking position in Republican leadership during a private meeting on Wednesday.

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