COLUMBUS — Ben Carson, a top surrogate for Donald Trump, spoke on the phone with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan last night ahead of Donald Trump’s visit to Capitol Hill.
“We talked about the big issues, and I think they are going to have a very, very substantive and good meeting,” Carson said this morning in an interview. “I suspect that after they meet they’ll feel much closer.”
A Ryan aide, familiar with the call, said the conversation was cordial and lasted about 10 minutes. And while no specifics were discussed, the talk was described as productive.
Ryan (R-Wis.) last week told CNN’s Jake Tapper he was “just not ready” to back Trump at the moment. “I’m not there right now,” he said. For many, the comments were seen as a rebuke of the presumptive Republican nominee, and added to growing divisions within the party. Shortly after Ryan’s comments, Carson told MSNBC that he was “very disappointed” with Ryan’s stance.
On Thursday, Trump is scheduled to meet with Ryan on Capitol Hill to make his pitch in person.
“Ryan has spent maybe a total of 15 minutes of his entire life with Donald Trump, so he doesn’t really know him,” Carson said the morning after his 15-minute phone conversation with the speaker. “I can see his comments now as perfectly legitimate, that he just needed to know more. I don’t think they are going to come out of that meeting being enemies.”
Carson said he spoke with Ryan about 9:30 Tuesday night, and topics included Trump’s tax plan and Trump’s thoughts on entitlement programs.
“It’s very fair that you find out from a person themselves what they believe, rather than having it fed to you by outside people,” he said.
When asked whether he would respect the speaker if at the end of the meeting he still couldn’t endorse Trump, Carson said he would understand.
“If that’s his decision I’d respect that,” he said. “But I don’t think that will be. Knowing him and knowing Donald, I don’t think that will be the case.”