House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke privately to Donald Trump Wednesday night to express his disapproval of Trump’s comments about a federal judge's ethnicity, one day after Ryan publicly called the presumptive GOP presidential nominee’s remarks the “textbook” definition of racism.
“I explained exactly what I thought about that comment. I said it publicly and I said it privately,” Ryan said in an interview with George Stephanopoulos airing today on ”Good Morning America”, adding that Trump’s attacks on federal judge Gonzalo Curiel were “beyond the pale.”
Ryan's office confirmed to ABC News that the two spoke by phone Wednesday night.
Ryan also said Trump’s comments “get in the way” of Republicans’ efforts to give voters a “clear and compelling choice” in November.
“Hopefully, this won't continue,” Ryan said. “Hopefully, the campaign will move in a better direction so that it can be one that we can all be proud of.”
Trump released a statement Tuesday attempting to soften his comments on Curiel, who is presiding over a case involving the now-defunct Trump University, saying his remarks were “misconstrued.”
Ryan, who re-emphasized his support for Trump to House Republicans in a closed-door meeting Wednesday, is rolling out an election-year agenda for members of Congress and the party’s presidential nominee to run on in 2016.
On Thursday, Republicans unveiled the national security plank of that agenda, which touched on trade and immigration – two key elements of Trump’s campaign – but made no mention of his proposals to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border or his proposed temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States.
Ryan, who supported comprehensive immigration reform in 2013 and condemned Trump’s Muslim immigration proposal, said he endorsed Trump because he is more likely to enact the GOP agenda than a President Hillary Clinton.
“I believe that he's certainly better than Hillary Clinton,” Ryan told Stephanopoulos. “These are the choices we have.”
Ryan has pushed Republicans to offer an “inspirational, aspirational, and inclusive” message in 2016, he told Stephanopoulos Thursday.
“I don't know what's in his heart. But I do think, hope and believe that he's going to improve the tenor of the campaign, the tone of the campaign, the kind of campaign that he's going to run,” Ryan said.
But it’s the kind of message he hasn’t heard from Trump’s campaign yet, he confessed.
“It’s not,” he said, when asked about the tenor of Trump’s campaign. “And I hope that it gets there.”