Speaker Ryan Reaffirms Trump Support But Says He Wasn't 'First Choice'

ByABC News
July 12, 2016, 12:46 AM

— -- House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, reaffirmed his commitment to supporting presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump for president Monday, but said the controversial New York businessman wasn’t his preferred Republican candidate.

“Look, he wasn't my first choice, everybody knows that. And he and I have had our differences. But I really do believe that on all the big issues of the day and the direction we want to go with our policies and our principles, that he’s certainly better than Hillary Clinton,” Ryan said in an interview with Wisconsin NBC affiliate WMTV.

Ryan, who has repeatedly criticized Trump’s rhetoric and more controversial proposals - including his proposed Muslim immigration ban - publicly remained neutral in the GOP primary. As House speaker, Ryan is presiding over the Republican convention.

He initially withheld his endorsement in May after Trump became the presumptive GOP nominee out of concerns about Trump’s campaign, but eventually announced his support in his hometown newspaper, the Janesville Gazette.

In explaining his endorsement of Trump, the Wisconsin Republican cited the importance of naming conservatives to the Supreme Court, as well as Trump’s support for the House Republican election-year agenda, which Ryan has championed.

Trump, Ryan has repeatedly pointed out, also clinched the GOP nomination in the crowded Republican primary.

“The primary voter selected Donald Trump as the nominee,” Ryan said Monday. “This is a bottom up process, our party is not a top-down party.”

The policy-oriented 2012 GOP vice presidential candidate splits with Trump on several major policy issues, including trade, immigration and entitlement reform.

The Wisconsin Republican will speak next week at the convention in Cleveland, a move first reported by Politico. He plans to talk about conservatism and the House Republicans' A Better Way agenda.