Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, acknowledged that “there’s a conflict within the Trump campaign” over the Republican presidential nominee’s hesitation to endorse House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin for re-election.
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In an interview with The Washington Post on Tuesday, Trump refused to endorse for re-election Republicans who have criticized him, such as Ryan and Sen. John McCain of Arizona. He praised Ryan’s GOP primary opponent, Paul Nehlen, for running “a very good campaign.”
“I’m just not quite there yet,” Trump said of backing Ryan.
Ryan told CNN’s Jake Tapper something similar in May, saying he couldn’t yet support Trump. “I’m just not ready to do that at this point. I’m not there right now,” Ryan said. He endorsed Trump in June.
Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, broke with the real estate mogul by offering his endorsement a day later.
“I strongly support Paul Ryan, strongly endorse his re-election,” Pence said in a phone interview Wednesday on Fox News. “He’s a longtime friend. He’s a strong conservative leader. I believe we need Paul Ryan in leadership.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called Trump on Tuesday to express concerns with the presidential candidate’s campaign and how he has handled his feud with the family of a slain Muslim American soldier, according to several party sources familiar with the conversation.
The parents of fallen Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq in 2004, were featured at last week’s Democratic National Convention. The father, Khizr Khan, criticized Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and said the billionaire has “sacrificed nothing and no one” for the country.
Trump has come under fire for his response. He said he was “viciously attacked” by the family and questioned why Ghazala Khan, Humayun Khan’s mother, remained silent onstage, suggesting that she wasn’t allowed to speak because she is Muslim.
Although Trump has remained defiant in his latest war of words, telling a Virginia television station that he doesn’t “regret anything,” his campaign chairman said Trump already expressed his support and appreciation for the Khans.
“I think Mr. Trump has paid the respect. It’s just nobody is acknowledging it,” Manafort said on “GMA” this morning. “We quibble over words, but the sentiments are there.”
Some staffers for Trump’s campaign have also voiced their frustration with the White House hopeful, according to sources familiar with the situation. But senior-level Trump campaign sources say that there is “no disunity” in their ranks and that they are “completed focused” on defeating Hillary Clinton in November.
Trump maintains that his campaign is “doing incredibly well” and “it’s never been so well united.”
ABC News’ Jonathan Karl, Rick Klein, John Santucci and Candace Smith contributed to this report.