Friday July 03, 2016 – Ending weeks of reluctance to embrace his party’s presumptive nominee, Speaker Paul D. Ryan endorsed Donald J. Trump for president on Thursday in a modest but unequivocal backing of a candidate whose views Mr. Ryan has frequently condemned.
In a column in his hometown newspaper in Janesville, Wis., Mr. Ryan said speaking with Mr. Trump had persuaded him that the billionaire developer would help him realize the conservative agenda that he is trying to advance.
“Through these conversations, I feel confident he would help us turn the ideas in this agenda into laws to help improve people’s lives,” said Mr. Ryan, who is also chairman of the Republican National Convention that will nominate Mr. Trump. “That’s why I’ll be voting for him this fall.”
The endorsement is the latest and most consequential example of leading Republicans falling in line behind Mr. Trump. Mr. Ryan faced substantial pressure from fellow Republicans in Congress, many of whom share Mr. Ryan’s misgivings about Mr. Trump, because they realize that high-level public divisiveness over his candidacy only weakens Mr. Trump and increases the political risks of defending their majorities in the House and Senate.
“I think it was always going to be this way,” Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma, said. “It was never plausible that a speaker would preside over your convention and not endorse you.”
Mr. Cole said the decision to endorse Mr. Trump would bolster Mr. Ryan’s main priority of protecting Republican seats in the House. “There is just no way that could have been helped by having that division,” he said.
After a sometimes awkward courtship, Mr. Trump said he was happy that Mr. Ryan had finally backed him. “I’m very pleased,” Mr. Trump said in an interview. “I have a good relationship with him, actually. He was taken a little bit by storm because my situation was supposed to go to the convention.”
In an announcement that came while lawmakers were still scattered across the country for their weeklong Memorial Day recess, Mr. Ryan explained Thursday that he had withheld his support until he could discuss his policy priorities with Mr. Trump.
But the speaker, who repeatedly dismissed rumors that he was considering his own presidential run this year and is already considered a contender in 2020, said he would not hesitate to disagree with Mr. Trump.
“It’s no secret that he and I have our differences,” Mr. Ryan said in the column he submitted to The Gazette in Janesville. “I won’t pretend otherwise. And when I feel the need to, I’ll continue to speak my mind. But the reality is, on the issues that make up our agenda, we have more common ground than disagreement.”
Mr. Ryan’s endorsement puts him at odds with Mitt Romney, who selected Mr. Ryan as his running mate in 2012. Mr. Romney delivered a scathing condemnation of Mr. Trump several months ago and has encouraged a third-party challenger to enter the race.