House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, who last week chastised Donald Trump for making racist comments about a Hispanic judge, continued to defend his support for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, suggesting he is better behaved in private.
“I can’t speak for his stage presence, but in private I find his temperament to be much better than what you see on stage,” Ryan (R-Wis.) told George Stephanopoulos during an interview that aired Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
Ryan said Trump’s criticism of U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, which cited his Mexican heritage, was “the textbook definition of a racist comment.”
Stephanopoulos reminded Ryan that this is not the first time he has criticized Trump for racially charged comments.
“It isn’t the first time I’ve had to do that, and it won’t be the last time if this continues,” Ryan said. “Hopefully, this won’t continue. Hopefully, the campaign will move in a better direction so that it can with be one that we can all be proud of.”
Ryan later added: “Look I believe that he’s certainly better than Hillary Clinton. These are the choices that we have.”
The interview was taped before Ryan was grilled Friday at former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s annual summit in Utah, where some members of the party’s establishment continued to voice disdain for Trump and vowed that they would not support his candidacy.
Stephanopoulos also noted that Ryan’s national security agenda, which he unveiled unveiled last week, did not include some of Trump’s controversial policies on immigration.
“No mention of the wall paid for by Mexico. Do you think that’s a realistic proposal?” Stephanopoulos asked.
Ryan said he thought that “securing the border is a realistic proposal. We can debate about how best to secure our border.”
But he dismissed the idea of asking Mexico to pay for it. “I never supported that. That and the mass deportation is something I also spoke out against,” he said.
“Look, we’re not going to agree with our nominee on everything. Mitt Romney and I didn’t agree on everything, and I ran on the ticket with him. So it’s a little much to ask that everybody agrees on everything,” Ryan said.
He also said he disagreed with Trump’s call to ban Muslims from entering the country: “We don’t believe we should have a religious test on people coming into the country, we should have a security test.”
Despite some differences on the specifics, Ryan said he is confident that he and Trump are on the same page “because the kinds of conversations that I have had with him are about what our agenda’s going to look like, where we want to go as a country and as a party, what our principles are.”
“He agrees with our need to get people out of poverty and move people from welfare to work. We all agree on replacing Obamacare with patient-centered health care. We all agree with comprehensive tax reform to grow the economy. We agree we need to strengthen our military. We agree we need a better foreign policy,” he said. “And on the big issues and the big questions of the day, we see common ground.”
Ryan also dismissed the possibility of Trump’s candidacy being derailed at next month’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, which Ryan will chair.
“The way I see it is he won the thing fair and square,” Ryan said. “I mean, 17 people competed, one person won. He got the delegates. The delegates ultimately decide these things, but he won fair and square.”