In an interview with The Washington Post on Tuesday, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump declined to endorse a pair of GOP leaders — Paul Ryan in Wisconsin and John McCain in Arizona in their upcoming primary fight, reminding the party is still deeply divided even after the GOP national convention in Cleveland two weeks ago.
“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,” Trump said of Ryan, echoing the same comments the House Speakers said in May after the Indiana primary when asked to endorse the GOP standard-bearer.
Asked about McCain, Trump stated he hasn’t endorsed the Arizona senator due to his lack of taking care of the vets in the senate.
“I haven’t endorsed John McCain,” Trump said. “I’ve never been there with John McCain because I’ve always felt that he should have done a much better job for the vets. 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. They’re not being treated fairly.”
Both Ryan and McCain have been critical of Trump over his recent ongoing feud with the Khan family. On Sunday, Paul reiterated his remarks of rejecting Trump’s proposed temporary ban on Muslim based on a religious test from entering this country, while McCain gave a lengthy statement that was harsh against Trump, calling for the GOP nominee to “set the example.”
“Arizona is watching. It is time for Donald Trump to set the example for our country and the future of the Republican Party,” McCain statement reads. “While our Party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us.”
McCain statement continues, “I claim no moral superiority over Donald Trump. I have a long and well-known public and private record for which I will have to answer at the Final Judgment, and I repose my hope in the promise of mercy and the moderation of age. I challenge the nominee to set the example for what our country can and should represent.”
Trump previewed his non-endorsement of Ryan in a tweet Monday afternoon by praising Ryan’s opponent, Paul Nehlen. “Thanks to @pnehlen for your kind words, very much appreciated,” Trump tweeted.
Responding to Trump’s interview, Ryan spokesman Zack Roday said in a statement to the Washington Post — “Neither Speaker Ryan nor anyone on his team has ever asked for Donald Trump’s endorsement. And we are confident in a victory next week regardless.”
McCain didn’t return comment on Trump’s remark.
Former Trump’s primary rival, Ohio Governor John Kasich gave his two sense to the conversation, tweeting his support to Ryan and McCain, whom he called “great leaders.”