Speaker Paul Ryan Denounces Violence at Campaign Rallies

"There is never an excuse for condoning violence," he said.

ByABC News
March 14, 2016, 4:52 PM

— -- After pledging to defend the Republican Party's image, House Speaker Paul Ryan decried the violence at several of Donald Trump's rallies over the weekend, calling on the presidential candidates to "take responsibility" for the environment at their events in a radio interview Monday.

"I think the candidates need to take responsibility for the environment at their events," Ryan said in an interview with radio station WRJN-AM of Janesville, Wisconsin. "There is never an excuse for condoning violence, or even a culture that presupposes it."

Trump, who at times has encouraged supporters to resist protesters, cancelled a rally in Chicago last Friday after a Trump supporter sucker-punched a protester at a North Carolina rally, leading to clashes between Trump supporters and protesters.

Secret Service officers briefly rushed to the New York businessman's side at a Saturday rally in Toledo after a protester tried rushing the stage.

Ryan, who did not mention Trump by name, said he saw the "very concerning" images from the rallies over the weekend.

He said that the clashes were partially the result of "an effort by some on the left to shut down these rallies and to stir unrest," but added that the candidates "have an obligation to do everything they possibly can to prevent this from happening."

The Wisconsin Republican, who is staying neutral in the GOP presidential race and will preside over his party's nominating convention this summer, criticized Trump earlier this month for declining to distance himself from white supremacists who are supporting his campaign.

While his focus remains on crafting an election-year agenda for Republicans to run with in November, Ryan said he will speak out on the presidential race when he believes "conservatism is being disfigured."

Ryan, who has also condemned Trump's plan to restrict Muslim immigration into the United States, recently spoke with Trump and the other GOP presidential candidates over the phone about the planned GOP agenda.