House Speaker Paul Ryan broke from his habit of avoiding comment on the 2016 presidential race to strongly condemn Donald Trump’s call for a ban on Muslim immigration to the US during Tuesday’s House GOP press conference.
“What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for and more importantly it’s not what this country stands for,” Ryan said.
The speaker said he was making an “exception” by directly responding to Trump’s statement, which he said was “not conservatism.”
“Freedom of religion is a fundamental Constitutional principle,” he said. “It is a founding principle of this country.”
Ryan pointed out that many Muslim-Americans have served in the armed forces and the U.S. government, adding that some of our “best and biggest allies in the fight against radical Islamic terror are Muslims, the vast, vast majority of whom are peaceful.”
His comments were made during a press conference announcing Republican efforts to “defeat” the threat of terrorist groups like the Islamic State, such as a GOP-led effort to pause the U.S. program accepting Syrian refugees and strengthen the visa waiver program.
Asked by a reporter if Trump’s remarks would hurt the party’s reputation, Ryan replied that he was “not concerned about lasting damage to the party.”
Instead, he said he was “concerned about commitment to conservative principles.”